If you could change something about yourself, would you do it? Lots of people go for plastic surgery. They have a good idea what the botox or tummy tuck will do. But what if you could go deeper? Would you change yourself at the chromosomal level if you could, without really knowing who the you would be on the other side of the change?
A new blog by someone with Down Syndrome answers that last question with a resounding, “No!” (The author of the blog does not give his or her name, but it is published on the VATTA website.)
The author says in no uncertain terms, “If I had the choice to turn off the extra chromosome in me I would not do it. I love who I am and have a great life.”
That author qualifies the answer somewhat by saying that it would be great if the chromosomes in certain body parts could be changed if they are causing trouble, such as heart or thyroid problems.
Still, changing a person’s chromosomes changes who they are. This author fears this prospect when thinking about new pressures this could place on expectant parents: “This new research makes me feel worried and hopeful for the future. I am worried about new mothers being pressured to use this to eliminate Down syndrome. In our world we have lots of diversity. That makes our world such a great place to live. On the other hand, I am hopeful that people with Down syndrome can have other health issues cured to help have a better quality of life.”
I’ve heard it said before that just as the most important scientific discoveries of the 20th century were in physics, so in the 21st century the most important discoveries will be in biology. What if someday expectant parents could change the chromosomes of their unborn children, should they be allowed to do it? If we could change our own chromosomes, should we be allowed to? For what reasons? Down syndrome? Other chromosomal outliers? Health problems? Skin color? Gender?