Within the field of human embryo research lies a controversial science that could redefine prenatal care: genetic engineering. Genetic engineering not only offers the possibility of eliminating birth defects and genetic illness, but also presents the moral ambiguity of eugenics. The acceptabilities of genetic engineering, assuming that it will be available in the foreseeable future, must be explored if society is to fully benefit from it.
The most prominent and perhaps the most acceptable reason given for genetic engineering is its potential use in preventative medicine. A few cells from an embryo could be genetically analyzed to detect harmful mutation or predisposition towards disorder, at which point action could be taken either through somatic cell or germ-line gene modification. In 1993, the gene that causes Huntington's Disease was located, and scientists are currently trying to determine its normal function (The Benefits of Genetic Engineering). Assuming researchers succeed in this endeavor, genetic engineering could then be used to eliminate a debilitating and ultimately fatal disease that affects approximately 30000 Americans and that has the potential to affect 150000 more through genetic inheritance (Huntington's Disease). In 1997, a group of scientists successfully diagnosed familial adenomatous polyposis coli, the dominant cancer predisposition syndrome, in three preimplantation embryos. This type of cancer predisposition affects 1 in every 10000 people America, Britain, and Japan, making it a relatively common malady (Ao, 140). Schizophrenia has been shown to run in families; even adopted children of schizophrenic parents are ten times more likely to develop schizophrenia, regardless of whether or not their adoptive parents are affected (Bernstein, 518). Lastly, birth defects such as downs syndrome could be eliminated through genetic engineering (Resta).
A more ambiguous reason for genetic engineering is the elimination of common defects that vary in seriousness, such as sensory...