The 21st Century Comprachicos

 Posted by on 27 September 2006 at 4:55 am  Uncategorized
Sep 272006

Those who have read Ayn Rand’s essay, “The Comprachicos” know that the title refers to a barbaric group of nomads in the 17th century that used to specialize in the deliberate mutilation of children’s bodies. Rand goes on to argue that the crippling of a child’s mind via progressive education is the 20th century version of this practice.

Well, in the 21st century, the comprachicos have returned to crippling the body. According to this recent report on the genetic testing practices in US IVF (in vitro fertilization) clinics,

Some prospective parents have sought [preimplantation genetic diagnosis] to select an embryo for the presence of a particular disease or disability, such as deafness, in order that the child would share that characteristic with the parents. Three percent of IVF-PGD clinics report having provided PGD to couples who seek to use PGD in this manner. (Page 5 of the report, page 7 of the PDF file.)

Now I can understand why prospective parents might choose to screen their embryos so that their future child won’t have a certain crippling disease. But to deliberately select an embryo so that it will seems incomprehensibly monstrous.

Or as this Slate article puts it, “Old fear: designer babies. New fear: deformer babies.”

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