Tom Purcell, 3/26/2007 [Archive]

Year 2027 - Designer Babies

Year 2027 -- Designer Babies

By Tom Purcell

"Son, now that you're getting older it's time you learn where babies come from."

"I know were babies come from, Dad. A husband and a wife become affectionate, a miracle happens, then nine months later a baby is born."

"Actually, Son, that's how babies USED to be made."

"Used to be made?"

"Son, when scientists cracked the human genetic code in 2000, it eventually opened up a lot of opportunities for people like your mother and me. It allowed us to build you from scratch."

"From scratch, Dad?"

"It took years, but scientists eventually figured out which genes -- and the ways that genes interact with one another -- cause humans to be the way they are. The new technology allowed us to custom-design you."

"You ordered me the way you order a new car?"

"That's right, Son. You have blue eyes and blond hair because that's what your mother wanted. You'll never go bald like your dad. And you don't have my big nose, either. Your mother picked a designer nose out of a catalog."

"I have a designer nose?"

"That's just for starters, Son. I was clumsy and skinny as a kid, but you won't have to worry about that. You'll be tall and fast and powerful. I'm already in negotiations with major universities about your football scholarship."

"Football scholarship?"

"We worked on your personality, too, Son. We eliminated the gene that causes crankiness. And because your mother is such a neat-freak, we gave you another gene commonly found in people who pick up after themselves."

"Huh?"

"But best of all, you're much smarter than your mother and I. Intelligence is a difficult characteristic to pin down but we worked with genetic engineers to get your intelligence just right."

"I guess that's a good thing, Dad."

"And don't worry about getting ill. You'll likely never get a cold or cancer or heart disease. We restructured your genetic makeup to prevent such illnesses. Don't you see, Son? You're the perfect child!"

"But I don't feel perfect, Dad."

"Look at yourself, Son. Good looking, smart, healthy. Maybe you'll be president one day or take over Bill Gates' company. You can be anything you want!"

"I guess I should be flattered that you and Mom put so much thought into building me. But I wish you had me the old way."

"Nonsense, Son. Look, humans have been trying to perfect their offspring since the beginning of man. Plato's "Republic" described a society intent on improving itself through selective breeding."

"Really?"

"And in 1926, the American Eugenics Society proposed procreation restrictions on immigrants from "inferior" stock. It also proposed sterilization for the insane, mentally challenged and epileptic."

"Didn't the Nazis try that?"

"Back in 2007, the genetic-engineering technology wasn't fully developed, but parents were able to screen embryos for defects and disease. Pope Benedict condemned the practice, but it was just getting started."

"Just getting started?"

"Sure, Son. Pretty soon, scientists were experimenting with live embryos. They attempted to manipulate the genetic structure of cells. Their goal was to learn more about inherited disorders in humans."

"Disorders?"

"In those days, scientists agreed this technology should NEVER be used to custom-design babies, but it was just a matter of time before somebody did it. Now it's commonplace, Son. That's why we were able to design a beautiful child like you!"

"I guess that's a compliment, Dad. But I still wish you had me the old way."

"Son, there's nothing wrong with what your mother and I did for you. Thanks to courageous parents like us, there are fewer sick, dumb and ugly people in the world. Your mother and I should be applauded for making you perfect."

"But, Dad, don't you think you and Mom did the work that God should be doing?"

"God? God who?"

Tom Purcell is a humor columnist nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons. For comments to Tom, please email him at Purcell@caglecartoons.com

RESTRICTIONS: 'Tom Purcell's column may not be reprinted in general circulation print media in Pennsylvania's Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, and Westmoreland Counties. It may appear only in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and its sister publications."



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