Would you give your child 12 fingers?

There is a scene in Gattaca that I definitely overlooked the first time I watched the movie and I’m sure that there are other people who did the same. It is both thought-provoking and disturbing even though it plays such a minor role. At the beginning of their relationship, Irene and Vincent (as Jerome) go on a date to a musical performance of sorts. The pianist they see was born with twelve fingers. This is important because the piece that he performed would not be possible through an “invalid” with a mere ten fingers. I guess the thing that bothered me most was the fact that it was his parents that chose this career path for the pianist. He was destined, before he was born, to play the piano and he would really not be able to do much else. Did the parents have the right to do this? The same question could be asked of Caroling Olsen’s mother in “Dancing on Air.”

Now, I will be the first to admit that I don’t have a firm position for or against genetic engineering – my thoughts aren’t quite formulated all the way. I think that I would be more in favor of what might be called “eugenics,” but really geared more towards disease. I know that when I have children, if I know that there is some way to prevent them from having a genetic disease that I might be carrying, I will do everything in my power to make that happen. This idea also goes along with the question that Professor Clayton brought up at the end of class today: is it considered genetic engineering (and if so, it is ethical?) to choose the most fit of two fertilized embryos? I really would have liked to have seen this argument play out in class because I am interested in what everyone thinks about it. Personally, if given the option, I would always choose the best fertilized embryo as possible. I wouldn’t be doing anything to change the child’s genetics, so therefore I don’t see anything morally wrong with that option.

I do have a question for those who might be against “bio-enhancing” children by such invasive methods: would you consider it more morally acceptable to encourage (or force) adults to have children together who were a good genetic “match”? Perhaps this would be more acceptable because it’s less invasive way of engineering better humans. I would love to know other people’s opinions on the topic. Just in case you are interested, here’s a website that can set you up with your perfect genetic match…actual dating was so 2009.


~ by bainej on April 2, 2010.

One Response to “Would you give your child 12 fingers?”

  1. I see your point about eliminating disease through genetic engineering. But what is considered a “disease”? What if being a carrier of a disease made you more resistent to another disease (think sickle cell and malaria)? When we start “messing with” our DNA, we don’t know what the outcomes could be.

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