The movie Gattaca describes a discriminatory world where high class society conceives in vitro preceded by rigorous phenotypic selection [and explores the social ramifications]. We cannot yet select for specific phenotypes like intelligence, creativity or beauty, but if we could, we would. Such is the state of in vitro fertilization as Scott Carney describes it in this article.
The question is not about where the line should be drawn in regards to newborn engineering, but the ethical issues that arise from selecting and farming women around the globe for their eggs. The issue is one other than financial parity; one other than exploitation. The fact that an educated American woman can sell her eggs for $50’000 while “an uneducated Ukrainian” would get “a few hundred dollars” is still alarming, but arises from a separate unfortunate facet of modern society. The question comes from the other end, that of the chooser. Should we have the ability to choose phenotypes? To what degree, to what precision?
Surely we can agree that selecting for disease and disorder prevention is ethical. Isn’t it? What defines a disorder, exactly? Should all forms of autism be screened out in the future, or do people who exhibit these traits add to their experience and our society regardless of popular or “scientific opinion” on their net effect? Who gets to decide, and who must obey?
Unpacking the Global Human Egg Trade, by Scott Carney