21 June 2008

Designer babies: Sexuality

The legalization of same-sex marriage in California and the discovery of prenataly established brain configurations determining sexual orientation were brought up on the Slate Political Gabfest yesterday (15mb mp3). While these developments could be seen as a set-back for the religious right, who traditionally view homosexuality as a choice that should be discouraged, Slate informs us that some such right-wingers have already adopted the position that if sexual orientation is indeed established very early in life then we should embrace this knowledge and use science and technology to prevent future homosexual births.

Scientifically, this is not all that far-fetched. I blogged recently about current advances in reproductive technologies and the growing reproductive rights debate. Sperm and egg donors are already ranked by every conceivable measure and since genetic screening for disease is standard it is naive to think that screens for other genetic traits could not be obtained from private clinics.

So what about sexual orientation? I raised this question in a debate in college once: if you had the option to determine the sexual orientation of your unborn child, (what) would you choose? And doesn't the choice ultimately come down to every parent's wish to have genetic grandchildren? If so, and if such technologies will soon be within our reach, does this mean that the number of gays and lesbians will decline rapidly in the future?
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