The Point: Skin Cell Babies?

What’s next, babies with bar codes? For the Colson Center, I’m John Stonestreet with The Point.

Imagine this scenario: Jane and John want a baby. They visit a clinic, give a few skin cells, and head out for a latte. Days later they return and select the embryo with the right sex, hair color, etc. to their choosing.

If you can’t imagine it, Stanford Law’s Henry Greeley can. He predicts this is how many babies will be made 20 years from now.

I cannot imagine a more dehumanizing process—for parents or for children. “A world of skin-cell babies …” writes Emma Green over at the Atlantic “assumes that the creation of life is a matter of pipettes and petri dishes, not something greater. While the widespread use of contraceptives has largely divorced sex from procreation, this process would represent the final severing.”

Instead of being the outcome of a loving and life-long union of men and women, children are increasingly becoming just another consumer item.

But hey, maybe if we’re lucky, we can find free baby shipping on Amazon Prime. God help us.

Resources

Making Babies, No Sex Necessary
  • Emma Green | TheAtlantic.com | June 27, 2017

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  • Phoenix1977

    “I cannot imagine a more dehumanizing process—for parents or for children. “A world of skin-cell babies …” writes Emma Green over at the Atlantic “assumes that the creation of life is a matter of pipettes and petri dishes, not something greater. While the widespread use of contraceptives has largely divorced sex from procreation, this process would represent the final severing.””
    I’m more concerned of the DNA replication process in DNA used from skin cells. In earlier (animal) trials with cloning we found the cloned animals hard a far shorter life span than the original animals. In fact, the original animal and the cloned version died relatively short after another.
    The presumed answer to that is the telomer: the ending of a chromosome which get a few base-apris shorter after each replication. It is currently believed the length of the telomers dictates the life span of an individual. However, the shortening with each replication is not constant in 1 individual and not comparable between individuals so it can’t be used to calculate the expected life span.
    Let’s be honest here: handing in some skin cells of handing in a cup of sperm is basically no different. We already have the technology to create “mail-order babies”. The only reason we’re not doing it yet is because there is no way to implants the embryo’s yourself, so medical intervention is required in IVF treatments. But, of course, it has a good ring to it: “skin-cell babies”. Makes it sound nice and ridiculous. Fact is, the procedure to extract DNA from a sperm is no different than extracting DNA from any other ceel in our body. The only thing required is eliminating half the chromosomes before using the DNA to fertilize an egg. But that technique is available since the early 1990s.

    • Scott

      So what do you think about ethical issues surrounding cloning? Just curious FWIW. I will try to look at it from your personal atheist beliefs. I would think the normal persons conscience would have a hard time cloning a living being if that being ended up living a marginalized life because it was an experiment that didn’t quite work out?

      • Phoenix1977

        To be honest I don’t really have an opinion about it. Like you said, it’s a failed experiment and therefor it would be unethical to use the process on higher life forms (which include pretty much all mammals, in my opinion) until we can solve the problem of DNA replication. It would be worth exploring if we could clone only parts of an organism, though, and than I refer to specific organs. If we could clone just a kidney or a heart without having an entire individual attached to it that would solve so many problem when dealing with organ failure. Not only would we no longer deal with a shortage of organs but the chance of rejection would be virtually eliminated. And in that case the telomer issue would no longer be an issue because the received organ with be genetically just as old as the receiver is.
        Unfortunately we are far, far away from that stage yet.

        • Scott

          That makes sense, thank you. Also I’m not so sure replicating an existing life form is such a good idea either… not just considering my own personal beliefs about morality here either. Replicating just an organ for replacement on the other hand… has some merit. : – )

          • Phoenix1977

            Not sure you would replicate an existing life. After all, identical twins have already learned us an individual is as much nurture as it is nature.

          • Scott

            That is not quite what I meant… I get your point though.

            Identical twins make for an interesting observation. The two can grow up in the exact same environment and yet they can have vast differences… the two always wind up bing individual people no matter the circumstances.

  • jason taylor

    This does not preclude a lifelong and loving union, nor does sex somehow make for it. “This is yucky” is not the same as “The Bible says so”. And there never has been a time when children were not a consumer item. Ask Henry VIII.

  • Becki King Solberg

    I bet most of them buy organic so to avoid GMOs. And now we have GMO babies, human beings.