Engineering Fetuses and the Ethical Conflicts Essay

Submitted By mdrjohnson
Words: 1978
Pages: 8

Engineering Fetuses and the Ethical Conflicts
In 2007, a group of biological engineers did an experiment to test a heart valve with gene therapy and other genetic engineering tactics. The report discusses their findings, and their analysis on all of their experiments. Through their data and analysis, they were lead to believe and were successful in locating the gene and locus for the heart valve. After they located this special locus, they began developing experiments and attempting to strengthen, fix, and even recreate this heart valve in amniotic fluid with different forms of genetic engineering and with a new form of stem-cell research. Schmidt, and her research group then released their data, their processes, and analysis and even hypothesized that this form of research could cure and even prevent some major forms of heart disease ( "Cryopreserved Amniotic Fluid-Derived Cells: A Life-Long Autologous Fetal Stem Cell Source, for Heart Valve Tissue Engineering" ). They released, "In order to address these problems, besides surgical techniques for the repair of diseased heart valves, current strategies are focusing on the improvement and development of heart valve prostheses. One such strategy is heart valve tissue engineering aimed at the fabrication of living autologous replacements." (Schmidt). While this may not sound revolutionary, this statement is exactly the kind of processes that could cure many diseases with genetic engineering.
“Cystic fibrosis a very difficult disease to deal with, due to its chronic and disabling symptoms. However, there is hope in the future with progress in genetic engineering. As science becomes more familiar with human genetics, it is possible that they will be able to replace the mutated gene with a normal gene to eliminate the disease” (“Free Information Database”). In the world today, we as a society see science developing rapidly and it is continually thinning the line of scientific breakthrough and a Frankenstein-like science experiment. Currently, one of the fields getting the most attention in our modern day is the field of genetic engineering and its capabilities for humanity as a whole and its ethical standards within society (Budnick). Many bioethicists like Michael Sandel believe that society has not developed morally enough in order to set restrictions on genetic engineering, but authors like Tristram Engelhardt believe that society has been ready and will be ready for decades to come because science is not about a moral or categorical imperative (The Foundations of Bioethics). Genetically engineering a fetus is ethically permissible under the ethics of Utilitarianism because it can save the lives both the child and the mother.

Part I:
The Ethics of Utilitarianism
The common misconception of fetal engineering is that it is solely used to "design" children like many popular science fiction authors display. From Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, to the move, "GATTACA", genetic engineering is constantly displayed as an unethical cloning and manipulation of the gene pool of a fetus. Through reports like that of Schmidt and Vacanti, genetic engineering has the main purpose to stop current birth defects and promote the general welfare of the youth.
This leaves the debate over whether or not modern genetic engineering of fetuses is ethical and not the misconception of what may happen in the future. The best and most objective way to view this scientific practice is through Utilitarianism and the ethical system it provides. John Stuart Mill argues that through doing the most good for the most amount of people is the best way to ethically benefit society (1-8). This applies to engineering because, while it is made individual and small-scale by bioethicists, genetic engineering is a field that is dedicated to assisting the entirety of the community and improve the country as a whole (Hahn). Hahn also argues that consequentialism falls under a Utilitarian ethical code and