The February 18, 2014, Wall Street Journal story “Family With a Risk of Cancer Tries to Change Its Destiny” by Bonnie Rochman described a woman who chose to prevent future children from getting breast cancer by undergoing a “controversial procedure to select embryos of hers that were free of a genetic mutation linked to the disease.”
The article explained:
Preimplantation genetic diagnosis has long been available during IVF, or in vitro fertilization, to eliminate the risk of passing on severe disorders such as spinal muscular atrophy and cystic fibrosis. Now, fertility clinics say they are seeing a small but increasing number of women choosing PGD to avoid giving birth to children who carry mutations in the BRCA genes, which increase the risk for breast and other cancers.
While I had heard of doing this procedure to prevent having a child with Fragile X (rather than having an abortion following testing), I had not heard of having the procedure to prevent passing down breast cancer mutation genes.
The opening premise of my work-in-progress dystopian thriller THE MOTHER SIEGE deals with selective births. While testing would have been automatically done during early-stage pregnancy, there would be some diseases that could only be tested for after a birth:
“When Jonah was born, he passed all the newborn screening tests with high marks. As a pediatrician I was allowed to be the doctor of record for his test scores even though I was also the birth mother.
“When [fraternal twins] Jessica and Julie were born, Jessica passed the screening test but Julie showed a tendency to develop asthma. The Provisional Government policy was to stamp out asthma as a medically expensive condition by eliminating all newborns with that potential. There was no way to falsify the screening tests.”
Natalie saw the horror in the children’s eyes.
“Instead I falsified the birth records. I put Jessica down as a live birth and Julie down as the opposite.”
In the very near future (THE MOTHER SIEGE takes place only 35 years from now in 2049) procedures such as these will probably become even more controversial. The Wall Street Journal article mentioned the fear of creating “so-called designer babies,” which could include gender selection.
This is indeed one of only many, many concerns that advances in technology will bring to our world. And this is the place where sci fi novels can help — encouraging us to consider possible future scenarios before they happen (or are allowed to happen).
Click here now to read the work-in-progress THE MOTHER SIEGE on Wattpad. (And a special thanks to author George Polley for being the most enthusiastic supporter of this story.)
© 2014 Miller Mosaic LLC
Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of fiction and nonfiction books/ebooks, including TOP TIPS FOR HOW TO PUBLISH AND MARKET YOUR BOOK IN THE AGE OF AMAZON and the romantic suspense spy thriller CIA FALL GUY.