Well, Art Caplan clearly disagrees with me on two very important things. Last week when I wrote about the Los Angeles fertility clinic that is offering PGD to prospective parents for eye color, hair color, as well as sex selection, I suggested that for traits such as these there is relatively little harm that can come to the future offspring. Caplan, as you will see in the video below, appears to disagree: when you get into trait picking for your child, you put expectations on your child no matter what the trait.
I think it matters how much the trait matters to the parents. On the one hand, you could argue the traits must matter enough if the parents are willing to pay thousands of dollars to select for it. On the other hand, if you are already selecting for gender, let’s say, which is the trait you really care about, and are offered the option of selecting for eye color or hair color or freckles, you may do so while you are “under the hood” (again to borrow from Glenn McGee’s Perfect Baby theory). In the latter case, I don’t see how expectations will play into the trait-selected brown-haired, brown eyed boy that the couple selected to look just like Dad after all. Sure, the parents really wanted a boy–but beyond that having a boy that looks a bit more like Papa is just a bonus.
Where Caplan and I really diverge is in this quote, however: “who’s to say what’s the better trait? Is it better to be red-headed than it is to be brown-haired? Is it better to have freckles or not? Those sorts of things are subjective.”
Please. Everyone knows it’s better to have red hair and freckles, Art. (Okay, maybe I’m just biased….)
Summer Johnson, PhD