"Savior Babies": Creating a Commodity?
Joining the “designer babies” debate is another issue that’s arisen with advances in reproductive technology. Besides family balancing, PGD has been used to create embryos that, once analyzed, are selected to “create” a baby that will have matching bone marrow or another genetic trait to be later donated to a sick, sometimes terminally ill, sibling.
Does this make the new baby simply a commodity? Is it ethical to create a baby for the sake of saving another child? If parents desiring this say, “No, we really want this baby for its own sake and for the good she/he can do for our sick daughter,” how can their motives be verified? Will they in fact treat this new baby as they would another child created for non-medical purposes. What if the experiment fails and the ailing sibling dies?
Similar questions arise in this case as in the gender selection debate. What if the desired baby boy likes playing with dolls and hates football? Will parents love that coveted daughter if she’s a “Tom Boy” and refuses to wear dresses? Is this ‘meddling with nature’ moral, ethical?
The creation of “Savior Babies” has proven successful in real-life cases.
Opposition to this has come from those concerned about the rights of the embryo. In this process, otherwise healthy embryos often must be discarded or donated or frozen (cryopreservation) sometimes interminably, which raises moral concerns from groups such as antiabortion advocates who see the embryo as human life.
The technology is here to stay. These ethical and moral issues, like others arising from advances in science will be widely debated in the coming years. At issue is how society responds to them. Will the public embrace some and reject others? Will regulations ban some or safeguard others?