Because of the high likelihood that a child born to this couple would carry this gene, they decided to produce multiple embryos through in vitro fertilization and screen out those found to be carrying the offending gene. Another way to say that - without all the euphemisms - is that the couple, with the help of science, created multiple children (or, at the very least - even my pro-choice readers would have to agree - potential children) and destroy the ones that they didn't like.
The couple is now pregnant and expecting a baby "guaranteed to be free from hereditary breast cancer." The scientific community is abuzz with this wonderful development. "Doctors say thousands of cases of breast cancer could be avoided by screening embryos." What those doctors are really saying is quite clear . . . the world would be a better place if all of you with breast cancer (not to mention your children and grandchildren) had never been born. You should have been eliminated before we ever got the chance to know you.
The expectant mother in this case thinks that she has done a good thing. She is quoted as saying that because of the history of breast cancer in their families, she and her husband chose this route. "It has been successful for us which," she said, "means we are eliminating the gene from our line. We had been through this with [my husband's] sister being ill, so it was something we had seen first hand. I thought this was something I had to try because, if we had a daughter with the gene, and she was ill, I couldn't look her in the face and say I didn't try."
I didn't try to do what???? Kill you before you were born! The irony is that if this couple's family had been able to do what they have now done, their anscestors would have been eliminated and neither of them would have been born.
If this practice becomes accepted, what else will we screen for and eliminate from the gene pool? Mental retardation? Birth defects? Those who might become obese? Or bald? What if parents really want a boy or girl, should embryos of the "wrong" gender be destroyed? Maybe I really want a strong, fast child who can excel in athletics. Should I be able to screen out and eliminate those who don't, or probably won't, measure up?
It is a truly horrible thing to say that you would rather your children have no life than to have a life with potential difficulties. Facing the hardship of breast cancer in your family is difficult and tragic. But it is no reason to revert to eugenics.