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In the late 1950s, just after Crick and Watson had discovered the complete structure of DNA, many scientists started working towards the probability of being able to genetically engineer humans. This would include designing them to be healthy, well formed and physically attractive with a life span of up to 200 years. The children would have enhanced photographic memory and bigger lung capacity for physical endurance, among other features (Hayes, Richards). This paper provides a summary on the views of Arthur Caplan about genetical engineering and critical analyses issue on genetically engineered children as discussed by Kaplan Arthur in his Youtube Video of 14th July, 2008 in Chautauqua Institution, New York.
Summary of the Video
Arthur Caplan suggests that in the future, utilizing genetics to sort out embryos, will make the future generations children healthier, they will have longer life span and better quality of life, as they will not suffer from genetic diseases. Most people have issues with supporting curing genetic diseases; the technology to rectify this challenge is available and yet still the parents ignore the technological enhancement therapies that could have prevented these problems (Caplain, Arthur). Some also say that due to support of choice together with compassion and human understanding, they don’t want to pursue these technologies. Still they have to be considered to encourage positive disability policies on how disabled people are handled and taken care for. According to Arthur Caplan, people feel it should be punishable to those, who don’t want to use this technology and yet give birth kids who have diseases or disorders, something that could have been avoided in the first case. The biggest challenge is how such people with conservative beliefs will be encouraged to accept and appreciate this technology (Caplan, Arthur).
Arthur Caplan gives an example of parents who wanted genetic defect by challenging the doctor to pick for them an embryo with genetic default of deafness. He considers this unethical, suggesting that the medicine is not supposed to honor personal interests of individuals, but to try and enrich person’s ability and capacity. This can be achieved through enhancing thinking ability by increasing child’s IQ, and making children who have photographic memory as well as improved health. The medical position on this technology is to broaden individual’s capability and not narrowing it down. In terms of regulation on the technology, Arthur Caplan suggests that there should be a limit on how decisions are made and appropriate actions are taken. There is a need for counseling parents on the decisions they are taking, they need to be informed about both the regulatory and moral effects of the act (Caplain, Arthur).
According to Kaplan, it has become a concern to many people why a parent would deny embracing such kind of technology, in order to help their own children with disabilities, when such parents allow their deaf children to receive cochlear implants that will boost their hearing ability. This supports Caplan’s argument on the several successful attempts to repair genetic diseases and the most critical issues of selecting the gender of children. Issues of parents deliberately wanting to give birth to children with disabilities like they have, has also been an issue in the medical world, which mostly has been regarded as unethical by many (Caplan, Arthur). According to statistics, over 3% clinics have admitted of performing embryo clinic in favor of disabilities. This is where a woman decides to take a deformed embryo with dwarfism or albinism, or, deafness and blindness, and arguing that they have the right to choose the kind of children they will raise (Hayes, Richards).
The availability of these technologies could have made such cases rare and, hence, saving on what can be called unnecessary costs (D’Agostino, Joseph). However, it is well known that these kinds of therapies do come with a cost and may not be afforded by anyone. Soon, maybe, the upper and middle class will be able to afford such procedures and this will give most parents a guarantee, that their genetically engineered children will have high IQ, excellent athletic abilities and will appear smart to the public through their blond hair and blue eyes (D’Agostino, Joseph).
Ethical and Social Values
It defeats logic when considering the kind of confusion that arises in the medical world on the war between determining the permanently disable child and a genetically engineered one; between the choice of parents that want a kid that resembles them and the need of many parents wanting to kill the unborn children with disabilities through abortion and through other means (D’Agostino, Joseph). The biggest worry in all these is if humans decide to make changes in genes, how many changes are they going to make and what mechanism is going to control these changes. Some argue that genetic modifications should only be for medical correction and it should be prohibited for any cosmetic purposes (Caplan, Arthur). The chances are, that birth of a fully genetically made child will culminate into so many challenges, it will cause many uncontrollable issues (Hayes, Richards).
Need for Genetic Engineering Policies
The main purpose of medicine venturing into such technology is to come up with a technology that will bring children with more capacity, more abilities and more than they could be. Medicine job is not to honor people tastes and preferences, medicine should not indulge into maters, such as allowing parents to do gender selection. Instead, medicine world should strictly provide alternatives to health challenges and never to encourage cosmetic ideologies in the case (Hayes, Richard). There is need for measures, especially which are similar to the one of the European Council negotiating for international conventional biomedicine and human rights, to give guidelines on human genetic modification to allow medical research in stem cells and ban genetic modification that will be a loop hole to high-tech eugenic engineering (D’Agostino, Joseph).
It is important that other countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America have also followed these measures. There is a need to realize that challenges being posed by human genetic technologies. There is a need to distinguish clearly what is medically allowed and what are pernicious practices. This should be embraced by all political leaders internationally, artists and scientists, to work towards ensuring that human genetics remain original and never be split by this emerging era of genetic technology (Hayes, Richards).
As much as there has been appreciation to technology, especially the breakthrough that has been in the medical world, Caplan puts it clear that genetically engineered children are becoming a reality; and this is something that can very much be appreciated when considering its right motives, however, it is even much worrying that despite the great scientific move in such discoveries, the biggest challenge is exactly how this vast finding is going to be controlled. Allowing any mistakes in this critical issues that concern our humanism should not be taken lightly, as it is up to every authority, every humanitarian stakeholder and all united nations institutions to take strong measures that will ensure what we can celebrate as success does not become a future catastrophe.