A Brave New World

Custom-made babies delivered: Fertility clinic doctor’s design-a-kid offer creates uproar.

In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, children are no longer produced through natural reproduction but in hatcheries where they are decanted from bottles. Society is divided into castes. Members of the highest caste, the Alphas are engineered to be intelligent, athletic and attractive. Naturally, they live privileged lives in this “perfect” society. The lower castes, the Deltas and the Epsilons are mass produced and effectively sub-human. They perform what might be considered all of the undesirable, monotonous and unpleasant work under the control of members of higher castes.

Back in 1997, Dr. Lee Silver, a professor in the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton wrote a book entitled Remaking Eden. Reacting to experiments that were, at that time, being performed on lab animals he predicted the emergence of genetic castes and human sub-species. “[T]he GenRich class and the Natural class will become . . . entirely separate species,” he writes, “with no ability to cross-breed, and with as much romantic interest in each other as a current human would have for a chimpanzee.”

Well, according to today’s article in the New York Daily News, the future is now.

Dr. Jeff Steinberg has already let thousands decide their kids’ gender. Now he says that within the next six months, the Manhattan and L.A. offices of his Fertility Institutes will let would-be moms and dads pick whether junior has blue or brown eyes or black or blond hair.

“In the process of doing gender selection … we’ve also uncovered the technology [to] characterize things like eye and hair color,” said Steinberg.

In parts of Africa and Asia more than 60 million women are demographically ‘missing’ from the world as a result of sex-selective abortions and female infanticide according to UNICEF. These societies  are now experiencing serious social problems as a result.  See Bride Shortage in India. How can we be critical of these practices when people in the global north are also using technology to determine not only the sex of their children but their appearance as well.

Brave New World is a cautionary tale and one we should heed. Pope Benedict, who grew up in Nazi Germany and witnessed the evil of eugenics first hand, spoke about this issue on February 21, 2009.

“The disapproval of eugenics used with violence by a regime, as the fruit of the hatred of a race or group, is so rooted in consciences that it found a formal expression in the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights.’ Despite this, there are appearing in our days troubling manifestations of this hateful practice, which present themselves with different traits… a new mentality is insinuating itself that tends to justify a different consideration of life and personal dignity based on individual desire and individual rights. There is thus a tendency to privilege the capacities for work, efficiency, perfection and physical beauty to the detriment of other dimensions of existence that are not held to be valuable. In this way the respect that is due to every human being — even in the presence of a defect in his development or a genetic illness that could manifest itself in the course of his life — is weakened, and those children whose life is judged unworthy of being lived are punished from the moment of conception.”

If you want to read Brave New World,  The whole book is on line at: http://www.huxley.net/bnw/.

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