Neo-con logic: Designer babies for all

Posted by Marcy Darnovsky September 10, 2008
Biopolitical Times

Neo-conservative pundit and former Bush speech writer David Frum, credited for having coined the phrase "axis of evil" to bolster extremist foreign policy, has another bright idea.

In the course of warning fellow conservatives to heed rapidly expanding inequality (not because it's unjust but because it might cost them votes), Frum suggests that his political compatriots tackle the problem by supporting inheritable genetic modification.

Frum begins by acknowledging that the genetic enhancement of future children and generations would be almost sure to further exacerbate inequality:

It is probable that the trend to inequality will grow even stronger in the years ahead, if new genetic techniques offer those with sufficient resources the possibility of enhancing the intelligence, health, beauty and strength of children in the womb.
But Frum, though worried that inequality is leading to "The Vanishing Republican Voter" (the title of the New York Times Magazine article in which his musings appear), is not deterred. Conservatives need not object to genetically super-endowed humans, he asserts. Relying on an idiosyncratic interpretation of statements by Pope John Paul II, he proposes that genetically manipulated children could be made "laudable" by arranging their availability to everyone.

Frum's fantasy vision of designer babies for all is shared by a few outliers, such as self-described transhumanist James Hughes. Just about everyone else who has ever commented on re-engineering humanity - skeptics and boosters; observers of the left, right, and center - conclude that it would all too likely create a future of new discrimination and deep social divides.