Where the Debate Over “Designer Babies” Began

Genetic technology is advancing, and critics are warning of a slippery slope. We speak with the scientists working at the forefront of the research, families who have benefited and the first-ever “test-tube” baby to understand the debate.

From the moment that scientists started tinkering with human embryos outside of the womb, there have been ominous outcries that we are on a slippery slope. People feared the technology would lead us towards a future where genetic modification of human beings is the norm. Babies would no longer simply be conceived and born, they would be designed. 40 years after the birth of the first so-called “test tube baby,” embryo selection and gene editing technologies offer great hope to couples looking to prevent hereditary disease or improve fertility. But with that progress comes a reignited concern that we are closer to slipping down the slope to designer babies than ever before. Are these fears warranted…or overblown?

For teachers
  • Producer: Jennifer Oko
  • Producer: Miriam Weintraub
  • Associate Producer: Olivia Katrandjian
  • Editor: Anne Checler