IVF has become an increasingly common procedure to help couples with infertility problems conceive children, and the practice of IVF confers the ability to pre-select embryos before implantation.
For example, preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) allows viable embryos to be screened for various genetic traits, such as sex-linked diseases, before implanting them in the mother.
The Collins’ decision to have a “designer baby” by choosing the sex of their child entered the public vernacular when they were featured in Time Magazine’s 1999 article "Designer Babies".
Though the Collins’ case only involved choice of gender, it raised the issues of selection for other traits such as eye color, hair color, athleticism, or height that are not generally related to the health of the child.
The social argument against designer babies is that if this technology becomes a realistic and accessible medical practice, then it would create a division between those that can afford the service and those that cannot.
Therefore, the wealthy would be able to afford the selection of desirable traits in their offspring, while those of lower socioeconomic standing would not be able to access the same options.
Her first thought after she heard the news, after she screamed and made her mother and boyfriend leave the room, was that she would never have children.
Amanda Baxley’s doctor had just told her, over a speakerphone in her psychiatrist’s office, that she had the gene for Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker disease, or GSS, which would inevitably lead to her slow and terrible death. Baxley, 26, declared she would not let the disease take another life in her family line, even if that meant forgoing childbirth. The next day, her boyfriend, Bradley Kalinsky, asked her to marry him.
Through PGD, physicians can select embryos that are not predisposed to certain genetic conditions.
For this reason, PGD is commonly used in medicine when parents carry genes that place their children at risk for serious diseases such as cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia.