What Kind of Choice?

It used to be in the realm of science fiction. Not anymore. Designer babies are one step closer to reality.

A U.S. company, 23andMe, has received a patent for a process that could be used to choose babies selected on the basis of genes that will increase the probability of certain physical attributes. Of course, the elimination of disorders and diseases is also touted as a benefit. For now, the company promotes the tool as, as they say, “a fun way to look at such things as what eye color their child might have or if their child will be able to perceive bitter taste or be lactose tolerant.”Biotechnology If the phrase “slippery slope” applies anywhere, it applies here. It’s a short step from playing a game to making choices that affect real life.

The word choice has been closely associated with the subject of babies in our nation. “Pro-choice” advocates espouse the right of women to choose to take the life of their baby before the baby is born. Choosing the traits of the baby they decide to keep is nothing by comparison.

But what are we choosing? Our culture moves from fad to fad. Names fall in and out of favor from year to year and generation to generation. Will the same thing happen with hair color? Eye color? Short or tall people? Isn’t that what the Third Reich attempted? Under a despicable dictator, a program was initiated to create a blond-haired, blue-eyed Aryan race. A race free of anything that could be called a defect.

So what will happen when our culture moves from playing a game to making “harmless” choices about eye color to finally eliminating any potential for less-than-perfect babies?

Consider these quotes:

“You measure the degree of civilization of a society by how it treats its weakest members.” ~ Winston Churchill

“The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped.” ~ Hubert H. Humphrey

If we eliminate babies with physical limitations—if we even consider their elimination—what does this say about our society? Our compassion? Will the elimination of the elderly be next? Will we deny care to those who are born with diseases or “defects”?

Technology may provide the ability to do something, but morality determines if we should do it. Our society has already crossed that line with abortions. The sad thing is that anything else seems tame once our culture has determined that killing babies is acceptable.

I recently attended a fundraiser for our local crisis pregnancy center. Babies are dying before they can take their first breath outside the womb. Mothers and fathers learn—too late—the horror of what they’ve done, and then live with crippling regret. But there are those who are working on the front lines to save lives. One mother at a time. One father at a time. One baby at a time. Because, despite what our culture says, it’s the right thing to do.

Photo courtesy of Nancy DeMott

Photo courtesy of Nancy DeMott

Martin Niemöller, a German theologian and pastor, said this about the Third Reich—words quoted by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:

First They Came

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

The choice is not about eye or hair color. It’s about life. Period.
Speak up for the babies. For the parents. For our nation.
If we don’t, someday, there will be no one to speak up for us.