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Making babies – Some questions for libertarian futurists/transhumanists

9 Oct
I was reading Dr. Donald Boudreaux’s excellent essay on legalizing markets in parental rights (aka, pejoratively, “baby selling”) and thought of some future scenarios I don’t remember coming across in my formerly vast reading of science fiction (though the series finale of Buffy and the made for TV movie Twilight of the Golds are tangential).  Boudreaux discusses the gains of trade for poor mothers, neglected children and infertile couples by allowing markets to operate.  I am wondering not about the marketing of desirable babies, but about their manufacture.

If gene therapy could do the following, should it be legal:

1) Eliminate a child’s inherited disorders

2) Allow a mother to eliminate or re-code the DNA contributed by a biological father who was her rapist

3) Allow a parent to eliminate or re-code the DNA contributed by a former spouse who had given up parental rights

4) Allow gay or lesbian couples to re-code DNA contributed by a donor to be more similar to that of their partner who was not a biological parent

5) Allow parents to shift their child’s appearance – hair, skin, eyes, nose, height, talents, mannerisms –  to assimilate them to their society’s dominant or more successful ethnic groups

6) Allow adoption agencies, orphanages, or adoptive parents to make parentless children more desirable to those willing to adopt, including shifting their appearance to be more like the parents, even recoding their DNA to be that of the adoptive parents.  This could include shifting their ethnic identity.

Currently there is a surplus of never-going-to-be adopted babies of color.  Indeed, upper middle class left-liberal “anti-racist” Americans routinely fly to Russia, China, Latin America, to adopt non-black babies, rather than adopt black American orphans.  I’ve sold at least two houses to lovely people in DC who exactly fit that stereotype, one of whom runs a major leftover political group.

Incidentally, to return to the Boudreaux essay, black critics of current adoption regulations say they discriminate against prospective adoptive parents who are black.  Of course, economic theory tells us when markets aren’t free people discriminate on bigotry instead of price; black would-be parents can’t afford the monopoly adoption fees.  Perhaps if black moms could sell their parental rights and choose to sell them only to black parents, at the lower prices in a freer market, the glut of unadopted black babies would be reduced.