The debate over a dying British infant reveals the moral complexities of health care.
We tend to think biology matters, and matters very much—except when we don’t.
Imagine Jennifer Doudna working in the lab overnight, her eyes sore, her head pulsing, and her mind swirling with an existential crisis. Utilizing a bacterial cell’s self-defense mechanism, the geneticist has mastered the ability to reproduce and guide gene-editing technology, otherwise known as CRISPR-Cas9. This technology could save countless lives, cure genetic diseases, and reverse the effects of cancer. But it could also advance efforts at human enhancement, leading to a revival of modern eugenics. In December, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine held a three-day summit on CRISPR technology.
Britain's House of Commons voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to legalize the creation of so-called "three-parent babies." Though advocates of the move say it will help prevent a debilitating and often lethal condition, many warn that the procedure, though well-intentioned, opens the door to ethical and safety questions that have yet to be sufficiently grappled with.
In The Kids Are All Right, a sperm donor connects with his biological children but is eventually dismissed as an "interloper" in their lives. To believe that the kids are all right, we have to agree with this judgment.