Skeptics discounted the claim of a “breast cancer free” baby produced by genetic screening, saying that the screening does not guarantee the child will not get breast cancer. Others expressed ethical concerns about the procedure and worried that it could mark the beginning of an age of designer babies.
“Damocles’ sword is still hanging over her head, as for every woman. She can still get breast cancer – maybe just not this specific kind,” said Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC’s medical editor.
Susan Love, of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, agreed. “Since most breast cancer — 90 to 95 percent– is not hereditary, she still has a high chance of getting it, just as we all do. I think we are better to put our energies in trying to figure out how to prevent breast cancer in everybody than to pick and choose who we allow to be born.”
Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, said genetic screening poses an ethical dilemma.
“Where is this going to take us in the future? How far will we go in letting people decide their babies?” Caplan said.
Snyderman urged a public discussion of the moral and ethical questions underlying prenatal genetic testing and selective termination, which she said are already widely available. Prospective parents are making prenatal selections based on sex, height, eye color and other factors, she said, as well as cloning.
See earlier post here.