MSNBC reported yesterday that a fertility clinic in Los Angeles (shocker) is now allowing prospective parents to pick and choose certain physical characteristics of their baby-to-be. Yes, this means that if you have the cash, you can order a baby with blonde hair and blue eyes if you so desire.
The clinic claims it's already gotten half a dozen requests for these "designer babies" and expects to roll out the first line next year. The method used to screen for these characteristics is called preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). It's been used since 1990 to help couples avoid passing on serious genetic diseases to their babies. It's also been used to help create "savior siblings" -- babies that are a good genetic match for older brothers or sisters that might need some blood or bone marrow, for instance.
This is the first time PGD has been used for cosmetic reasons and it appears that the demand is there. MSNBC points to a recent survey of 999 Americans that found that a majority of people think it's fine to screen for things like blindness and developmental disabilities. But what was really interesting is that 10 percent thought it was OK to screen for athletic ability or improved height and 13 percent supported it for superior intelligence.
Clearly this is a slippery slope. What do you folks think -- is it a dangerous road or is it as fertility clinic director said, simply "unchartered?"