The “Gay Gene” and the New Eugenics

by Wesley J. Smith, J.D., Special Consultant to the CBC on August 13, 2012

We don’t know what factors lead to a propensity for homosexuality. (Frankly, I don’t think any “one” thing, but that’s an unexpert opinion.) But some believe we will discover a “gay” gene. If so, that has very real eugenic implications — which I fear would mostly accrue to the deadly detriment of fetuses with said gene. From “Gay or Straight Baby: The Choice Could be Yours:”

Professor Robert Klitzman of Columbia University’s Centre for Bioethics has told TV ONE’s Close Up that genetic tests are now being developed to look for autism, alzheimers and various types of cancers. “We may find tests with homosexuality for instance,” he said.

Well, that’s an (I am sure unintentional) odious juxtaposition. Homosexuality is a behavior or an orientation (let’s not get political correct), it isn’t a disease like cancer or a mental illness like autism.

This would mean people could decide they do not want a child because it is going be gay, or that they want a child that is gay. “So over the next few years as we develop more genetic testing, as the price goes down so it becomes very affordable to do this, these will be questions that millions of people will face,” Klitzman said.

I really doubt it will be that simple. But it shows the pure eugenics potential we now face surrounding reproduction. Not only that, but many actively call for trying to improve the human gene pool — assuring us that the new eugenics will be benign because it won’t be government forced. (That’s how the original eugenics started too.)

In the context of this story, selecting (or engineering) progeny for or against homosexuality is to turn our backs on unconditional love. Aborting to prevent bearing a gay or straight child is eugenics, which by definition is abhorrent because it defines one identified “category” of human as superior or “better” than another. It reduces childbearing to an act of crass consumerism.

The scientific prowess we are developing requires that we proceed with humility and wisdom. But I worry about hubris — pride being a primary human failing. Thus, we face a vital task of tempering our science with strict ethics and proper morality to keep us from going off an ethical cliff.

The first step is to embrace human exceptionalism and the equal intrinsic value of every human life. If that is our moral foundation, we are unlikely to go far wrong.

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