HomedisabilityWhere will the three parent IVF vote in the UK take us?

I know I’ve already made an entry today, but an article on BlogHer, Would You

By KDS444 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0
via Wikimedia Commons

Have an IVF Baby With Three Parents?, caught my attention. It’s about how scientists in the UK have developed a way to insert part of a third parent’s DNA into the egg donor’s ova and taking out the corresponding part of the original DNA.

The reasoning behind that is to prevent genetic diseases that cause things like organ failure or possibly death from being passed on to the baby. I can get behind that aspect of it. If I carried such a disease in my DNA, and could prevent my child from suffering from it with minimal risk of side effects? Sure.

The fear with the sort of thing is, where will it stop and how will it be regulated?

Our culture has an ugly history of eugenics, and in many ways, that ideal is still around. As anyone with any sort of disability can attest to, we’re generally seen as defective. Our positive contributions are almost always framed in terms  of “despite being ______”, when the reverse is often true.

It wasn’t long ago that disabled people were forcibly sterilized. One of the first groups to be rounded up with the Jews during the Holocaust was the disabled, whose deaths were seen as mercy killings. In some countries, babies with a visible disability are still abandoned after birth.

I’ve faced some serious personal struggles because of my dyslexia, which was inherited from my dad. He got it from his mother, my grandma. If I have children, they have a 50/50 chance of getting it from me.

Several years before my grandmother passed away, she was able to come out to visit us. During her time here, we had a conversation I’ll never forget.

This was the first time we’d seen each other in decades. Not long before I moved to this state, I had failed myology in massage school, in large part because they didn’t accommodate my learning disability. Instead of allowing me to take only that class again, the school insisted I go through the entire program again. Since that seemed shady, I didn’t take them up on it.

Anyway, word had gotten back to my grandmother. She pulled me aside, and said, “I was born with something called dyslexia, and now you have it. If I knew I was going to give it to your dad, I never would have had children. I’m so sorry.”

I didn’t know how to take that. How do you react to someone apologizing for passing their genetics to you? I thanked her, but told her she really had nothing to apologize for. I may have also told her I was grateful to have her as my grandmother, because I was, and still am today.

Personally, I would never give up my dyslexia. Sure, I had a hard time, but that struggle has taught me innumerable lessons. I know I wouldn’t have wanted such a fundamental part of who I am taken away before birth.

If this three parent IVF thing catches on, it should be regulated. Unless the disorder is life threatening, I don’t think it should be eliminated.

And for pity’s sake, let’s not mess with superficial things like skin, hair or eye color. We wear our heritage within our cells, and diversity is part of what makes the world beautiful.

I also think we need a much better understanding of how DNA and RNA works, how changes in one part of the chain will effect the other parts, plus a better understanding of how our environment triggers genetic reactions. We’ve made incredible advances in this field of science, but that doesn’t mean unpredictable, negative problems could happen to the children born of this new procedure.

In the end, almost all medical advances have light and dark sides. By all means, let’s prevent life threatening diseases, but let’s not eliminate socially dictated “unfavorable traits”.

The key to a happier world is not forced conformity, but a celebration of diversity.

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