The UK is now testing for more than 200 genetic diseases on pre-implantation embryos created by in vitro fertilization. Those who test positive will be discarded. Many are concerned that this is the first step in creating designer babies. Dr Fishel of CARE Facility insists that this is not true. He said: “We are providing a healthcare option for diagnosing and selecting out affected embryos so couples have the opportunity of embarking on a pregnancy with a healthy child. The alternative is testing at 16 weeks when they may choose an abortion or, in many cases, seeing their baby die from some of these horrendous diseases. In my opinion, it is unethical not to offer couples the chance of a disease-free child.”


Utilitarian ethics are at play here. But there’s also financial considerations. Dr. Fishel described a conversation he had with the NHS over funding these tests: “‘I had a phone call from a primary care trust after a couple applied for funding, asking what it was all about. ‘When I explained, the manager said, ‘So this technique means we spend £20,000 and avoid the possibility of having to spend between £1 and £2 million caring for a disabled child. It’s a no-brainer.’”


It may be a financial no-brainer, but it’s not a moral no brainer. We are living in a world that values perfection to such an extent that we are willing to kill any nascent human being who does not exemplify it. Rather than valuing life, we want to eliminate it whenever it might strain our pocketbook.


What I find more scary than the fact that this is going on is how it is being portrayed as the morally superior thing to do. Dr. Fishel says it is “unethical not to offer couples the chance of a disease-free child.” The moral high-ground is being turned upside down wherein those killing embryos are the good guys, and those wanting to protect them are the bad guys. We are living in a confused world.