Imagine a day when prospective parents are able to order their babies from a bank. The parents could choose the hair color, height, intelligence, health, eye color, and skin color. Imagine a day when parents can sue if their child does not come as desired. This may sound like science fiction, but it is becoming very real.
In October of 2014, Jennifer, an Ohio woman, sued a sperm bank for mixing up her order. As The Washington Post reported, “An Ohio mom and her same-sex partner are suing a Chicago-area fertility clinic for sending sperm from a black donor instead of the white donor’s sperm that she ordered.” (Bever) The lawsuit sought $50,000 from the sperm bank. The court papers read, “Jennifer was crying, confused and upset. All of the thought, care and planning that she and Amanda had undertaken to control their baby’s parentage had been rendered meaningless.” (Bever) Jennifer’s desire to control her child failed, but her story shows the consumer culture of becoming a parent.
Jennifer is not the only person trying to control the outcome of her child. From sperm banks and embryo donors, to on demand abortions, there are many ways people are trying to control their pregnancies. The question I want to ask is if the sort of eugenics previously described is morally good or evil.
Certainly some people praise the choice to abort certain children. For example, Richard Dawkins recently tweeted, “It would be immoral to bring [a baby with Down syndrome] into the world if you have the choice.” In Dawkins worldview, if given the choice, it is morally good to abort a child with signs of Down syndrome.
The problem with choosing the outcome of a child, whether through abortion, sperm banks, in vitro fertilization, or any other kind of eugenics, is that procreation is being replaced by consumerism. When procreation is replaced by consumerism, the child becomes a product to be chosen, bought, and sold. When children are products, they lose value in and of themselves; life loses its sanctity.
Procreation is the natural means by which human beings are brought into existence. Procreation has been ordained and set aside as a sacred act whereby a sacred life is born. Eugenics, on the other hand, is the artificial act where pregnancy is made into an assembly line.
The new push for eugenics in stories like Jennifer’s, is not only a catalyst for the degradation of human life, but it is also a reflection of societies view of human life. When nothing is sacred all things are consumed. Before babies could be sold like a product, they first needed to be thought of as a product.
If humanity is to flourish, life must be counted as sacred. If the world of Aldus Huxley’s famous novel, where babies are created on factory lines and trained in government facilities, is to be avoided, life must be counted as sacred. If another holocaust is to be avoided, life must be counted as sacred. Human life is not a product, it is a gift.