The 1% chance of imperfection
The contemporary use of genetic studies has been equivocated to “playing God.” The use of embryo screening and gene therapy by Dr. Lambert in Mendel’s Dwarf raises many moral and ethical questions. The birth of Adam and the resulting physiological and biological implications made me question the impact of genetic manipulation in regards to child rearing.
Firstly, deciding the “fate” of your child is a big responsibility. What happens if the parents cannot agree on a particular trait or gender? I would think these arguments would put a major strain on a marriage. Perhaps these people are not ready for kids. What if one characteristic becomes undesirable down the road? Would the blame be put entirely on the parent? Would the mother blame the father or vice versa? Although I would hope parents would still love their children regardless of their resulting biological makeup, I question the psychological toll of “playing God.”
If embryo screening did become the norm, what are the implications of human error and mistakes? What if the doctor accidentally chose the wrong embryo? In Mendel’s Dwarf, Jean threatened to abort the baby if Dr. Lambert had in fact switched the embryos. Even in less extreme cases, I wonder if parents would follow suit. What is the consequence of disappointment? In pursuit of perfection, what are the implications of an accident? I can image this would lead to a plethora of legal tribulations in the medical world. However, my biggest concern is the effect on the child. If you knew you were genetically “imperfect”, in the sense that you differed from your parent’s “dream child,” how would you feel? I can envision a slew of new physiological complexes.
Few things in life are guaranteed. Even with a guarantee of 99%, there is always a small chance for error. In biology, even the smallest glitch can have a gigantic consequence. As we strive for perfection, we must question the possibility of an unexpected result.