Pro Choice?

02.11.145:07 PM ET

A New Abortion Battle: Selective Birthing

Using pre-implantation diagnosis, doctors can screen fetuses for mutations. Is this too close to eugenics?

In the culture war over reproductive rights, the right to life is often touted as the reason to limit women's choice. But what happens when one woman's choice to terminate her pregnancy could potentially cure a mystery illness and save generations? That is the question Joselin Linder faces. She carries a genetic mutation in her heart that will eventually cause her a long and painful death, one she witnessed her father undergo. With the help of medical researchers, Linder discovered that the disease began five generations back in her family. Given that her family is the only known carrier of the mutation, she and her sister could eliminate the disease by choosing to bring to term only healthy babies.  Using pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, doctors can screen fetuses for such genetic mutations and only implant fetuses without them. While some argue such selective birthing smacks of eugenics, Linder and her family see genetic medicine as an intentional, premeditated form of healthcare.  "I don't think it's right to select for handsome, blue-eyed babies," says Linder's sister Hilary. "But if you can save a life? How wonderful that is."