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victorian rat boy
East Boston, MA, US
Posts: 5

The Ethical and Moral Questions of the New Eugenics

Voluntary genetics, although a good idea in theory, could easily become immoral if there aren't set rules for what is deemed acceptable for modifying, or if the parent hasn't thought very long and hard about the reason(s) why they may want their baby modified. It should be a right for any and every human to live a happy and prosperous life, and chronic illnesses can often prevent that from happening. By modifying a baby to be immune to diseases they are predisposed to, their parents give them a better chance at living a comfortable and healthy life. On the flip side, however, if used irresponsibly, voluntary genetics could prove itself a catalyst for further social inequality and divide. If people begin to modify their baby’s genes with their preferences of what makes for a ‘perfect human’, inevitably, there will be multiple facets of human diversity also edited out of those babies, primarily features of minority groups, because of the stigma against those groups. Not only this, but also the expenses of gene editing may deter people from underprivileged groups from being able to afford to participate in voluntary genetics at all, furthering the divide between the rich and the poor. This is a concern also expressed by MIT Technology Review, as they state that the use of voluntary genetics risks ”creating a society where some groups, because of culture or geography or poverty, bear a greater burden of genetic disease.”, a consequence which has potential to become of much greater concern the longer it is fueled.

Ultimately, while voluntary genetics have multiple implications for better human health and quality of life, if used unethically, the slippery slope into immorality and social divide would be almost inevitable. This is further proven by our collective history with eugenic policies; although it started out as a theory which would have helped with the betterment of human society (that being, without ill intent), the eugenics movement very quickly spiraled into what many would consider one of the darkest periods in human history. From forced sterilization, to racist and ableist laws, to the movement grew from a small seed into a tangled web, who's poisoned roots had long term consequences which continue to affect our society today. As put by the National Library of Medicine, the “horrible abuses” which resulted in the use of eugenics showed that “coercive policies imposed by governments have obscured the fact that eugenic goals can be the subject of choice as well as coercion”.

crazyarmadillo
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 13

Eugenics

America has made many technologies that have changed how the world has become, such as CRISPR. Eugenics, the idea that the world can be benefited if one could just change the genetic makeup to make humans more fit. CRISPR is able to take away certain genes that cause diseases, such as dyslexia, MS, and so on. Parents do not want to pass their diseases to their children, which makes the CRISPR more intriguing to them. By eliminating people that are deemed inferior, it is difficult to categorize what is good and bad for society. One is subjecting themselves to the perfect idea, but it is rather difficult to identify what is perfect.

The word “perfect” could correlate to a dog, to the shape of a pear, to an eye color, to the body length and nose. For diseases, countries in Africa commonly have sickle cell because it prevents malaria due to its mosquito- surrounding environment. However, in America, where there are less mosquitos, sickle cell is seen as a terrible disease. It is difficult to determine what is perfect because it “depends on the environment, culture, and circumstances that a child will face.” For example, during the 1900s eugenics movement, society had grouped people who were not of the anglo saxon race and were not as skilled as them as defective. This is detrimental to society’s values because people with “defects'' do not have the ability to talk about how they view themselves in society. Plastic surgery has been a common procedure for many years … “plying their trades without all people with big noses or poor posture feeling they need to visit specialists to have these traits altered.” Without one realizing, plastic surgery is the CRISPR, but in adult form. A doctor isn’t changing your genetics, but they are changing how one looks, in order to be in the perfect standard.

There are dangers that the CRISPR face, because society has been reliant on America as an amazing country, more countries will want to join in on CRISPR’s activity. It is dangerous since one doesn’t know the extent to which the CRISPR will be used. There are no certain regulations or standards for the CRISPR. For example, when America had launched their first nuclear weapon, Russia was extremely shocked by it and decided to start making them too. By making them, it resulted in the increase of nuclear weapons and the potential of human destruction.

The CRISPR cannot fully guarantee that the child will not inhibit certain genes in the future, such as deafness, diabetes, cancer, asthma, etc. The CRISPR is only for the baby in the womb, not when it is born. The baby could be born with a higher IQ, but it is not guaranteed that the baby will be smarter than someone of lower IQ, once out in the womb and living.

bowlesfan#1
Charlestown, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 9

Learn to Question Post 4: The Ethical and Moral Questions of the New Eugenics

The ability in which one can alter the genetic makeup of their offspring, when used correctly, is moral and can take us to places we have never thought of in the world of medicine. There are two types of genetic-altering technology. They include somatic or germline gene-editing. In the somatic form, only the DNA within the body’s non-reproductive cells are being changed. This means that it is only affecting the individual. Rather in germline, it changes the DNA within sex cells which means that the changes done to the individual are passed onto their children and affects future generations. Ultimately the decision to use the technology is up to the parent, but as a society we are capable of doing what is best for us, especially when it comes to our children. According to the Harvard Gazette, “If you could precisely correct or delete genes that are causing problems — mutating or aberrant genes — that is the ultimate in precision. It would be so transformative for people with diseases caused by a single gene mutation, like sickle cell anemia and cystic fibrosis. Developing safe, effective ways to use gene editing to treat people with serious diseases with no known cures has so much potential to relieve suffering that it is hard to see how anyone could be against it.” Gene-editing technology gives us access to delete DNA mutations that cause diseases we may not even have cures for, such as some forms of cancer. Although it is expensive, we have to take into account that terrible diseases will regardless force a person’s family to spend thousands of dollars on treatment and if passed on will lead to a cycle of payments. In germline gene-editing, we can just avoid it altogether and make the cost worth it. It is also noted that the cost of the technology is slowly decreasing and can be more accessible to those in the lower class in the future, “This is only the beginning. As the price of genetic testing of all kinds drops, more adults are learning about their genetic makeup as part of routine medical care and discovering specific genetic risks before pregnancy.” Many also see that autism, ADD, dwarfism, etc are actually gifts and that erasing those genes is unethical and decreases natural human variation. With somatic variation a parent is able to choose for their children but does not choose for them how their children will end up. Thus this form can be used for non-life threatening diseases and does not erase positive mutations in the body. Our history brings up the question of if we can avoid the abuse of this type of technology. We have been able to make laws and policies over time to avoid such types of problems in other places so there is no reason why we can not do the same here. The agreement on rules for things such as CRISPR and advocating for good morals and ethics will give us no problems. If not then we can set certain procedures to combat it from possibly negatively affecting others.
Critical Thinker
Posts: 10

Morality of Eugenics

I do not think that voluntary Eugenics is immoral. People should have the choice to use technology to their desire, and to potentially make life exponentially easier, better and more enjoyable for their children. The ability to weed out diseases and disabilities that have been causing people worlds of grief for centuries is not something that we should pass up out of fear for something that might happen. If we have the capabilities to help people, we should. The Harvard Gazette says ¨Developing safe, effective ways to use gene editing to treat people with serious diseases with no known cures has so much potential to relieve suffering that it is hard to see how anyone could be against it¨, and this is something I agree with entirely. There is so much potential to relieve people of the struggles they go through now, it would be unfair to hold this back from those people out of a fear or possibility that it could get out of hand and be used to create bad things in the future. There are people now who are suffering, and people being born into a world they will continuously suffer in every day we do not use these technologies to help better genetics.

Admittedly our history with Eugenics is not a pleasant one. Scrolling through all of the eugenics policy projects goes to show that people given free reign over the ability to control others and ¨create¨ a better race does not work. We can see this in the miscegenation, education, and sterilization policies which only served to further divide the nation and were incredibly immoral. The National Library of Medicine says ¨It is important to distinguish between genetic changes undertaken with respect to improving a group or population and genetic change that takes a single individual as its focus¨. This is why current, voluntary eugenics will be different. Rather than an attempt to make society as a whole better, or a push from the government to create a better human being, this is a choice for each person to make for themselves, fixing whichever problems they choose, not those that society deems unfavorable. Rather than the policies that force people to follow the general laws, or weed out people against their will, this is something that regards one single individual, and what is best for them.

Gene editing if done poorly does run the risk of causing greater social divide. If it gets out of control or into the hands of private companies that can allow only the rich access to the ability to create these better babies, there is no doubt that society will enter a dystopia where the rich are truly genetically disposed to be smarter and healthier than the rest of the world. However if done correctly, and properly regulated to be given to those who really need it, or an option given regardless of wealth it could be a new chapter in society, and is worth the risk in my opinion. The research so far has actually made great strides towards equity. Before genetic research there was an extreme bias in the amount of knowledge known about European genomes and other races. In the past few decades ¨Genomics researchers have initiated dozens of research projects to enhance the representation of research participants in genomics research. These studies are addressing a variety of research topics, including the effects of genomic diversity on disease risk, how to tailor genomic medicine for underrepresented populations, the impact of genomics research on diverse and the history of the human population¨(Diversity in Genomic Research). We actually now know much more about how genomes of different populations are affected than we did years ago, which is a great stride towards equity due to eugenics research.

There is a lot that we don't know about the future of Eugenic technology, that there are a lot of things that could possibly go wrong, I do not disagree with that. But the benefits for people who do suffer from diseases and disabilities that could be taken away outweighs the risks in my opinion. It it not fair to all the people whose lives this could save to say we will not use the technology at our disposal due to the possibility of it reaching the wrong hands in the future.

tulips
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 9

The Ethical and Moral Questions of the New Eugenics

Voluntary eugenics is immoral, even with certain regulations established to make sure it doesn’t go out of hand. Although the use of CRISPR will ensure that certain illnesses that require extensive treatment or illnesses that are more fatal no longer exist in the gene-pool, which allowing for a better quality of life for those with the illnesses, it will also do a lot of harm and will create a lot of inequity within people’s lives. With every benefit that comes from CRISPR, there will always be a downside that is packaged along with it.

CRISPR is one of the most impressive medical advances that has occurred in our society so far. With the implementation of CRISPR, it would relieve many families from the troubles of medical expenses that come with treatment for some illnesses and save not only expensive trips to the hospital but also give people with illnesses freedom that they had never received before. In order to closely regulate CRISPR so that people don’t use it with ill intentions, it’s important to make sure that CRISPR is solely used for medical reasons and not for cosmetics. For example, people should not be using CRISPR to allow themselves to genetically have a better nose, blue eyes, a higher IQ, etc. Instead, people should use CRISPR to do things like edit the gene for sickle cell anemia out of their genes so that they no longer have to struggle with the life-changing symptoms of the illness. It would also provide possible cures for illnesses that have never been curable like cancer or cognitive insensitivity to pain.

However, even though it can cure illnesses and relieve society from these struggles, it also has many side effects that outweigh the benefits of CRISPR. Even though it can edit out a certain gene that causes a certain illness, it's possible that there could be side effects present when changing the gene. Changing one gene may invoke a change in another gene, causing another problem as compared to solving the problem completely. Not only are there biological risks to CRISPR but there are also ethical risks. Those who are in the lower-middle class will not be able to afford gene-editing, allowing a bigger gap between the wealthy and the poor to form as wealthier people will be able to afford gene-editing and will become more advantaged in that way. Hospital bills are already quite expensive and CRISPR will be even more expensive in comparison. In addition, there are some people that feel like their genetic condition helps form the way they are and affect how they see the world in a good way. This isn’t to say that people with genetic conditions don’t struggle or suffer but some may convey their genetic condition in a more positive way, and wouldn’t want to change the presence of it in society like those who are affected by deafness, autism, or dwarfism. As quoted from an article I read, “Evaluating the quality of life of another person is a complex, highly subjective, and context-dependent task that is morally questionable in a society based on the concept that all people are of equal value regardless of their individual differences.” Not everyone feels the same way about a certain genetic condition so it is important to consider their own perspectives in the conversation of eugenics. Having people in society with various different perspectives and points of views is so important and is expanded and valued from all kinds of places of diversity.

Furthermore, during our dinner debate, there was an important issue brought to light about mothers and genetic diseases as well. Some mothers, knowing that they have a genetic disease, will choose not to have babies despite their strong desire for children because they don’t want their children to have the same genetic disease that caused them so much hardship in life. However, with the implementation of CRISPR, mothers would be able to fulfill their dreams and not be barricaded by an obstacle in the issue of having children. Even though this is true, this may also cause even more inequity within women. Wealthier women, who are able to afford CRISPR will typically be able to receive treatment and have children while less wealthier women, who are typically people of color who are put at a disadvtange, will not be able to receive treatment and have children. This causes a divide between mothers and brings life to the inequity that CRISPR will cause.

The conversation of eugenics is one that is ongoing and may never completely end. It brings to mind the questions: Who decides who receives treatment first? Who decides what the guidelines for administering CRISPR are? Will CRISPR displace those that work in the medical field? What happens then?

F@mousSu@ve
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 10

Gene editing in any way is immoral, there are too many risks or bad outcomes that could result from editing offspring than the benefits can cancel out. Changing the genetic makeup of someone shouldn’t be something that we can do and it interferes too far with nature and the course of evolution in any species. There are many ways that gene editing could get out of hand and be harmful, be used for non-beneficial reasons, be controlled by the wrong people, as well as other possibilities. Aside from being immoral, altering the genes in offspring and eventually changing the entire human population, there are harmful effects that would undoubtedly happen to some percent of the population that had their genes altered. It could cause more defects in someone's body when trying to erase them which we have never seen before in our species which would hurt many as it got passed on to others. There is also a chance that gene editing could be used for reasons such as altering one's features, making them stronger, making them smarter, etc. These would make some much better and able to do things much easier than others as would only be affordable to wealthier people, giving some advantages on editing because of how much money they had, this could also cause for less wealthy people to even have the restriction of affording the actual beneficial edits. Those same non-beneficial edits could also have results of erasing unique identities and cultural features from people as there would most likely be a race to achieve society's beauty standards. This means that allowing gene editing could over time allow for the possibility that everyone in the world would be a clone of one another and there would be no genetic discrepancy. As we have seen in history, there have been rises of groups that all enforce and believe certain things and carry out immoral acts. If gene editing got into the hands of a rising group or nation like this there could be any number of possibilities such as creating “super humans” in that group to make their population better than average humans in every way, they could do this by forcibly editing offspring, and having all these attributes would allow for them to do harm to other nations or groups in the world.

Even if we ignored all of these possibilities and set restrictions, that would inevitably be broken, there are still other factors that would be unfavorable towards gene editing. If it was only used to keep people from getting diseases or illnesses, there would still be people who were harmed by the technology. This would mostly allow for more people to live long and healthy lives, but put pressure on our Earth that is already overpopulated and cause it to have an even greater population. This would make people with very little resources to have less and largely take away from the amount of resources required to live to go down even more. The population would only grow without anything bringing it down which would lead to there eventually being no space left on Earth. All of these collective reasons not only out way the benefits, but also prove the benefits to also have many risks and bad outcomes.

Mastermind26
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 15

Originally posted by tulips on November 14, 2023 08:59

Voluntary eugenics is immoral, even with certain regulations established to make sure it doesn’t go out of hand. Although the use of CRISPR will ensure that certain illnesses that require extensive treatment or illnesses that are more fatal no longer exist in the gene-pool, which allowing for a better quality of life for those with the illnesses, it will also do a lot of harm and will create a lot of inequity within people’s lives. With every benefit that comes from CRISPR, there will always be a downside that is packaged along with it.

CRISPR is one of the most impressive medical advances that has occurred in our society so far. With the implementation of CRISPR, it would relieve many families from the troubles of medical expenses that come with treatment for some illnesses and save not only expensive trips to the hospital but also give people with illnesses freedom that they had never received before. In order to closely regulate CRISPR so that people don’t use it with ill intentions, it’s important to make sure that CRISPR is solely used for medical reasons and not for cosmetics. For example, people should not be using CRISPR to allow themselves to genetically have a better nose, blue eyes, a higher IQ, etc. Instead, people should use CRISPR to do things like edit the gene for sickle cell anemia out of their genes so that they no longer have to struggle with the life-changing symptoms of the illness. It would also provide possible cures for illnesses that have never been curable like cancer or cognitive insensitivity to pain.

However, even though it can cure illnesses and relieve society from these struggles, it also has many side effects that outweigh the benefits of CRISPR. Even though it can edit out a certain gene that causes a certain illness, it's possible that there could be side effects present when changing the gene. Changing one gene may invoke a change in another gene, causing another problem as compared to solving the problem completely. Not only are there biological risks to CRISPR but there are also ethical risks. Those who are in the lower-middle class will not be able to afford gene-editing, allowing a bigger gap between the wealthy and the poor to form as wealthier people will be able to afford gene-editing and will become more advantaged in that way. Hospital bills are already quite expensive and CRISPR will be even more expensive in comparison. In addition, there are some people that feel like their genetic condition helps form the way they are and affect how they see the world in a good way. This isn’t to say that people with genetic conditions don’t struggle or suffer but some may convey their genetic condition in a more positive way, and wouldn’t want to change the presence of it in society like those who are affected by deafness, autism, or dwarfism. As quoted from an article I read, “Evaluating the quality of life of another person is a complex, highly subjective, and context-dependent task that is morally questionable in a society based on the concept that all people are of equal value regardless of their individual differences.” Not everyone feels the same way about a certain genetic condition so it is important to consider their own perspectives in the conversation of eugenics. Having people in society with various different perspectives and points of views is so important and is expanded and valued from all kinds of places of diversity.

Furthermore, during our dinner debate, there was an important issue brought to light about mothers and genetic diseases as well. Some mothers, knowing that they have a genetic disease, will choose not to have babies despite their strong desire for children because they don’t want their children to have the same genetic disease that caused them so much hardship in life. However, with the implementation of CRISPR, mothers would be able to fulfill their dreams and not be barricaded by an obstacle in the issue of having children. Even though this is true, this may also cause even more inequity within women. Wealthier women, who are able to afford CRISPR will typically be able to receive treatment and have children while less wealthier women, who are typically people of color who are put at a disadvtange, will not be able to receive treatment and have children. This causes a divide between mothers and brings life to the inequity that CRISPR will cause.

The conversation of eugenics is one that is ongoing and may never completely end. It brings to mind the questions: Who decides who receives treatment first? Who decides what the guidelines for administering CRISPR are? Will CRISPR displace those that work in the medical field? What happens then?

I agree that there are many social inequities the gene editing would exacerbate. However, if these problems were solved or if gene editing was equally avalible despite these inequities, would gene editing still be immoral?

Mastermind26
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 15

The Ethical and Moral Questions of the New Eugenics

Voluntary eugenics is not immoral when used for medical purposes, such as preventing disease. It is a matter of reproductive freedom and individuals should be able to decide for themselves whether or not they want to use gene editing. Gene editing could cure diseases with no treatment and/or cure such as sickle cell and cystic fibrosis. Additionally, it helps individuals to lead easier, healthier lives. According to Matt Ridley, “The tragedy of that story lies not in the science behind eugenics, but in the politics: It is the coercion that was wrong.” So long as people have a choice when it comes to gene-editing technologies, it isn’t wrong or immoral. It is also important to note that gene editing is different from eugenics because the goal is not to eliminate groups of people but to help individuals live easier, healthier lives. Furthermore, more research and legislation are necessary to ensure that these technologies are used responsibly before widespread use can begin. According to Bergman, “the U.S. and many other countries have substantial policy and regulatory restrictions on using germline human genome editing in people”. This shows that governments have already taken steps to make sure the technology is used ethically and can create guidelines to ensure that this continues in the future. The limiting by governments of germline human genome editing until the technology is developed further and the effects are better known would greatly decrease if not completely eliminate potential adverse effects. Due to the already low genetic variation in humans, it would be possible that gene editing would further decrease genetic diversity. However, within the genetically similar species that is Homo sapiens, there are many differences in culture and opinions. As a result, different people would select for different traits, which would maintain the existing genetic differences in humans. Gene editing would allow people to eliminate diseases and conditions that put people at a disadvantage. This in turn would lead to greater equality. Also, if there were certain groups of people who couldn’t access gene editing technology, they wouldn’t be more likely to have genetic diseases than they would be without gene editing technology. If anything they would be less likely to have such diseases or conditions as these would become eliminated from or less common in the gene pool. The use of gene-editing technologies is determined by people's own ideas. This, coupled with social psychology, creates a situation where society has a great influence on people’s ideas and decisions on gene editing. Nonetheless, as has been done with many other important decisions, it is essential that people have to be given the freedom to make important decisions for themselves. Regardless of whether or not less democratic nations are using gene editing technology, to completely ban such technologies would take away the autonomy that individuals should be able to have over their own bodies. This would make “more democratic nations” no better than “less democratic nations” in regard to choice when it comes to decisions made regarding one’s body. In conclusion, the life of a human is priceless. As a result, if people so choose, they should have the ability to promote life to the extent technology allows.

cranberryjuicelover6000
West Roxbury, MA, US
Posts: 10

The Ethical and Moral Questions of the New Eugenics

Since its invention in 1987, the technology of CRISPr has rapidly developed and evolved. Less than 30 years after its original release, the technology was at a point where it could be used on humans. CRISPr-Cas9 is a gene editing technology that corrects errors in the genome and turns on or off genes in cells/organisms quickly. This practice has been heavily debated for the last few years because of all the moral complications that come with voluntary eugenics like this one. Using technologies like CRISPr should be dealt with differently based on the situations they are being used in. With these sorts of things, it is unfair to flat out say “voluntary eugenics is immoral” because that is stripping all nuance away from the situation which has to be viewed with much. Of course, everyone's definition of “immoral” is different but there are some instances that can be pretty widely agreed on as immoral. For example, everyone has a different definition of perfection. What a parent wants for their child because they think it's the “best” might not be what the child would want. It is hard to say because “it is simply not clear which traits or attributes are properly perceived as perfect or optimal” (National Library of Medicine). The debate lessens when things like HIV and sickle cell disease are being eliminated in people through CRISPr. However, as technology progresses people will start using it to enhance things like height or intelligence which is where immorality comes in. It is not right to modify things that don’t impact the child's wellbeing when they are unaware of what is happening. Additionally, editing the baby's genes that wouldn’t be life threatening poses the question: What genes are good and which are bad? Certain disability and genetic differences scholars are saying that technologies like CRISPr are dangerous because they open the door to “cut people like us out of existence without others even noticing” (Scientific American). To many communities this is frightening. As stated before, all situations with using this technology are vastly different and should be treated as such. Things like using CRISPr to eliminate sickle cell anemia in an individual has already been done and the patient reported being very grateful for not having to experience the hardships that came with it as much anymore. Other disabilities however which are not life threatening or cause the person to live in constant chronic pain may be an instance where CRISPr should not be used. It is also important to note that there are risks that come with CRISPr and it is not perfected yet. Even though it's rare, there is always the possibility that scientists can cut out the wrong gene causing even more issues. CRISPr when used should be regulated and specially monitored so its use does not get out of hand while evolving at a safe and healthy rate.


Another issue that is important to be mentioned when discussing CRISPr is that it has the ability to exacerbate social divisions between the affluent and less affluent. Because CRISPr being used in humans is such a wealthy area, people who are wealthier will have much greater access to these technologies. This will lead to different diseases being eliminated from their offspring which already gives them advantage over children who do not have access to them. As richer people begin to eradicate these things, poorer people will still have to face them. The poor would still have to pay expensive medical bills anyways for the treatment these diseases require which would create an even greater wealth gap. If CRISPr technology continues on the path it's going down, it's essential to have a strictly medical procedure which is advised by a doctor and is made accessible for people with all different backgrounds.

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