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The dystopian sci-fi thriller is fast becoming our reality.
In a key scene in the film Gattaca, a genetic counselor speaks with a young couple about the child they’d like to have. The couple’s first child, Vincent, was diagnosed immediately after birth with several disabilities including a heart defect that puts his life expectancy at just 30.2 years.
So the couple decide to genetically engineer their second child. The counselor explains that after screening hundreds of embryos produced via in vitro fertilization, they are left with two healthy boy embryos and two healthy girl embryos. “All that remains is to select the most compatible candidate,” he tells them.
They decide they want another boy, a playmate for Vincent. Reading off a report, the counselor says, “You have specified hazel eyes, dark hair and fair skin. (The counselor, who is black, smiles a little as he reads the last specification.)
He continues, “I have taken the liberty of eradicating any potentially prejudicial conditions: premature baldness, myopia, alcoholism, addictive susceptibility, propensity for violence, obesity, etc.”
The mother interjects, “We didn’t want…I mean, diseases, yes, but….
Her husband says, “Right, we were just wondering if it’s good just to leave a few things to chance.”
The geneticist says, “You want to give your child the best possible start.”
Believe me we have enough imperfection built in already. Your child doesn’t need any additional burdens. Keep in mind this child is still you, only the best of you. You could conceive a thousand times and never get such a result.
The couple acquiesces, and their second son, Anton, is the near genetically perfect son they had hoped for — their one-in-a-thousand baby.
In Gattaca’s world, most parents genetically engineer their children, and the few parents who conceive naturally risk producing children who become members of an underclass called “invalids.”
Set in the “not too distant future,” Gattaca, which starred Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, and Jude Law, debuted on October 24, 1997. The dystopian sci-fi thriller is a cautionary tale of what could happen if humanity doesn’t check its eugenic impulses.
Fifteen years after the film’s release, advances in reproductive and genetic medicine are producing the type of society Gattaca warned against.
The fields of assisted reproduction and genetics have been transformed since 1997. The Human Genome Project was completed in 2003, which enhanced our understanding of the genetic roots of human traits.
It took ten years and more than $3 billion to sequence the first human genome (DNA). But some scientists believe it won’t be long before a person’s full genetic make-up could be decoded in hours and for less than $1,000.
Even now couples can discern a great deal about their children before they are born. Genetic testing is being mainstreamed into the practice of obstetrics. In 2007, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists began recommending that all women be offered prenatal screening for genetic conditions.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?