Kids Made-to-Order: Science Gone Awry

Bishop Sgreccia Points to Instinct of Manipulation

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ROME, MARCH 3, 2009 ( A Los Angeles-based fertility clinic offering would-be parents a child made-to-order — complete with the desired skin tone or hair color — is an example of science when it is not put at the service of the good, says Bishop Elio Sgreccia.

The retired president of the Pontifical Academy for Life spoke to Vatican Radio today about an offer from The Fertility Institutes, to give would-be parents the physical traits they want in their child — green eyes, for example, or dark skin or blonde hair.

The process screens babies at the first stages of life — applying technology already used to kill children for sex selection, or who have or could develop genetic defects — and selects those embryos that meet the tastes of the buyer. The rest are eliminated. The price tag for the process is about $18,000. The Fertility Institutes claims to already have some half-dozen requests for the service.

Bishop Sgreccia said this “is not the first time that these kinds of announcements come up, which have the objective of increasing the number of clients. In any case, it is about an ethically mistaken operation, and one that wounds the dignity of the offspring, since it is oriented toward manipulating the body, dominating it and transforming it according to one’s tastes.”

The bishop said that just as it is illicit for a child that has or could develop defects to be eliminated by negative selection, “it is also illicit to make a selection that obeys only the wishes of the parents.”

“This is a typical example of science that is not placed at the service of the good, but rather at the desires of those who buy its services; meanwhile those who pay the price in this case are the children,” he lamented. “When a norm of creation that is so delicate is violated, the law should take interest in this field.”

Bishop Sgreccia said the situation points to the “instinct of manipulation,” an instinct that can be detected in the times of Nazism “to a certain degree, since they didn’t know everything that is known today.” This instinct to manipulate, he affirmed, “continued beyond the abolition of the totalitarian regimes.”

“It could seem that it is a tendency proper to the thirst to dominate that political absolutism has always wanted to exercise over the life of people,” he contended. “Unfortunately, this type of instinct to dominate exists in man, if it is not braked by morality and the law, and it survives even the regimens that are no longer totalitarian.”

Now, Bishop Sgreccia said, these parties no longer obey a regimen that “wants bio-political results” but rather “the interests of those who have money and the whim to play with others’ lives.”

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