Gene editing raises legal, ethical problems with designer babies: Judge Napolitano

Scientists made a breakthrough in gene editing when they successfully edited the DNA of human embryos to remove a mutation that can lead to a hereditary heart condition.  Although the breakthrough may lead to vast potential health benefits, it also opens the door to controversy as well.  Some have raised the ethical concerns of couples one day using the technology to create ‘designer babies.’

When the Fox Business Network’s Stuart Varney posed the question, “It opens the door to designer babies, is there a legal problem with that?” Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano explained why this is not an immediate threat.  “At the present time, there is a legal problem with that…it [Congress] has prohibited the Food and Drug Administration from spending money on the registration of gene editing.  Therefore gene editing cannot be done commercially in the United States of America at the present time.”

According to Napolitano, even though we’re five to ten years away from having the ability to create designer babies, it will eventually become available somewhere in the world, if not in the U.S.

“The genie is out of the bottle and if it doesn’t happen here and a rich couple wants a designer baby, they may go to Shanghai and have it done there and then come back here and have the baby here.”

Napolitano also discussed the need to address the legal concerns surrounding the controversy, “We probably will have a legal framework.  Will we be ahead of the rest of the world or will we be behind it?  Under what circumstances will the government permit gene editing?  Because you want a baby with blonde hair and blue eyes who is going to go to Princeton instead of the London School of Economics?”