Pre-Testing Embryos For Genetic Abnormalities Does Not Create ‘Designer’ Babies

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in vitro fertilizationWhat on earth is a “designer” baby? Are we talking about the little ones in the new Dolce & Gabbana underwear ad wearing D&G diapers? Maybe the offspring of actual fashion designers?

No, according the Daily Mail, “designer” babies is the new way to describe children born through in vitro fertilization who were pre-screened for genetic abnormalities before they were even implanted. Apparently enormous leaps in medical technology need catchy PR campaigns to gain attention.

The saddest part about this really horrible phrase is that it’s being used to draw attention to a remarkable story. Julia Eynon and her husband Stuart went through four rounds of IVF and miscarried twins twice before they were actually able to give birth to two healthy, adorable little ones. I cannot imagine that pain and struggle they dealt with as they went through years of trying to get pregnant and multiple miscarriages.

Finally, doctors were able to determine that the couple both carried genetic abnormalities that made it near impossible for them to deliver a healthy baby on their own. They would mostly like continue to miscarry around six weeks or deliver stillbirth infants at full-term without medical intervention. The horror at hearing such news must be unbelievable.

Thankfully, doctors have more resources than ever available to them when trying to help couples conceive. Reproductive technology has truly grown by leaps and bounds in recent years. Doctors were able to do a genetic screening on Julia and Stuart’s embryos before implantation to determine which embryos had the best chances of healthy delivery. One round of IVF produced no viable embryos at all. But finally, the couple got lucky and found two embryos that could be used. A short 27 weeks later, Julia and Stuart gave birth to Holly and Aaron.

The twins were only 2 and 2.4 lbs when they were delivered, but a year later, they are happy, healthy youngsters. Would I call these children’s birth incredible? Definitely. Would I call them “designer” babies? No.

Calling anything “designer” implies that it’s a luxury. It implies that it’s better than plain, old generic. Having healthy kids shouldn’t need to be a luxury. And I would imagine that Julia and Stuart are simply happy to have children, no matter how the achievement was accomplished.

The title of “designer” babies sets children born through reproductive technology apart. It makes them different. And while this certain label could be seen as a good thing, others still say that those differences are bad. The Catholic Church says that having a child through IVF can “can hinder the maturing of his personality.” They seek to set babies born through IVF aside, as if there’s something wrong with them because they weren’t conceived “the old-fashioned way.”

How about we get rid of both of those extremes. Let’s not call these babies anything but two more, wonderful little people brought into the world. They aren’t “designer.” They definitely aren’t going to have personality defects because of the method of their birth. They’re beautiful children born to two happy and loving parents. That’s enough to celebrate.

(Photo: somersault18:24/Shutterstock)