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Turning People into Products

Thanks to a new technology in development called in vitro gametogenesis (IVG), in the near future any combination of donor parents—one woman, or two men, or three women and three men—may be able to have a child. 

IVG would allow scientists to take the genetic matter of one or more humans and use it to create gametes in a lab. One man, two women, four men, you name it—with this technology, a child could be produced that is the genetic offspring of any or all of them, assuming everything goes as planned. Liberated from the shackles of nature and culture (or so Harvard professor Debora Spar’s recent argument for IVG goes), people will finally be able to fashion their lives and the lives of their offspring on their own terms.  

Many have rightly raised ethical objections to IVG, and pointed out how this technology would damage traditional marriage and the family. We share these concerns, and we raise yet another: IVG would encourage us to treat human beings not as persons, but as made-to-order products.

The technology offers us the promise of control over human reproduction, and with this control comes an expectation that offspring will conform to donor preferences. What happens when an IVG-produced child does not satisfy a customer’s order? Who will take responsibility for this child when another, “better” specimen might be purchased for more money? The more that human reproduction becomes a matter of technology and financial transaction, the more we can expect that “quality control” will become a part of the process—soft eugenics in the name of customer service. You can’t give a paying customer a defective product, after all. It’s bad for business. 

Read more at First Things

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