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Our future, our universe, and other weighty topics

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Genetic Resisters: A Science Fiction Story

John and Mary knew that it would be very difficult for them to have a child in the only way allowed by the government. First they would have to apply to the Office of Genetic Enhancement and try to get a pregnancy permit. As part of their application they would have to supply blood samples. Their genetic characteristics would be analyzed, and if either the father or mother was found to be genetically deficient, the permit would be denied. If the permit was allowed, John and Mary would have to begin the standard government approved procedure for having a baby.

The first step would be for Mary to go to the doctor's office at the right time of month, to supply an ovum. Then while Mary was at home, that ovum would be genetically altered, according to the genetic plan that the government computer had recommended. In the laboratory, the ovum would be artificially fertilized, using sperm supplied by the father, sperm that had also been genetically modified. Then Mary would have to come back to the doctor's office, so that they could implant the fertilized ovum in her womb.

This all seemed like a horrible procedure to Mary, who wanted to have a baby the old- fashioned way. So John and Mary made love without using any contraceptives. After a few weeks, Mary thought she might be pregnant, so she went to the doctor to confirm her pregnancy.

What's your pregnancy permit number?” asked the doctor.

I'm afraid I cheated,” said Mary. “I got pregnant the old-fashioned way.”

Interesting,” said the doctor. “Now let me give you some pills you need to start taking immediately.”

Mary took the pills. A week later Mary was arrested, and transported to the Office of Genetic Enforcement. She was interrogated in a small brightly lit room by a government official named Todd Conklin. 

 So what's your reason for violating the law?” asked Conklin.

I didn't want to go through the standard procedure,” explained Mary. “It's so cold and mechanical. Besides I've heard horrible stories about the genetic freaks.”

Oh, come now, I hope you don't believe that kind of anti-science propaganda,” said Conklin. “Every single genetic intervention approved by the government computer results in wonderful biological improvements.”

Yeah, right, that's the official story,” said Mary skeptically. “But I've heard the truth. Lots of times those so-called 'genetic enhancements' backfire, and the result is somebody like a kid with fins for hands, or a child with a single eye above his nose or a kid with a tongue that hangs way out of his mouth.”

Lies!” shouted Conklin. “Those are just fables told by anti-science government haters. All genetic enhancements result in wonderful benefits for the child. Look, don't you want your country to win the Gene Race?”

I've heard about that Gene Race, but I don't even know what it is,” said Mary.

I'll explain it to you,” said Conklin. “Once genetic enhancements were introduced, it became clear that it was a gigantic race between the different nations, a race that would determine which country would control the world. Whichever country made its citizens stronger and smarter would have a decisive advantage over all other nations. So all the biggest countries started a crash program to enhance their national gene pool. That's the Gene Race.”

I don't care if our country loses that race,” said Mary. “Let some other country win the prize.”

It's not a race for a prize!” thundered Conklin. “It's a race to see who will control the world!”

Well, I don't care about that,” said Mary. “I'm going to go ahead and have my baby the natural way.”

No you are not,” said Conklin. “Your doctor followed the government regulations. As soon as you announced that you had become pregnant without a pregnancy permit, he gave you abortion-inducing pills, as is required by law. They must have worked by now.”

Mary started crying.

Look, I'll let you off this one time,” said Conklin. “But this is going on your record, and don't let it happen again, or you'll be looking at some long jail time.”

Mary thought long and hard about what to do next. Finally she decided on a drastic course of action. She would try to persuade her husband to join her in fleeing to another country, a small, backward country that still allowed natural births. But when Mary told her husband about her plan, he resisted.

Let me check out that country and see whether it's too primitive for us,” said John.

After doing some research John told Mary he thought the country was way too backward to live in.

I've checked out that country, and it's so primitive you wouldn't believe it,” said John. “They don't even have wall-to-wall holographic screens there. Can you believe it?”

But I want to live there, and have a child the natural way,” insisted Mary.

That place is so damn backward,” complained John. “They don't even have house robots. You have to clean your house yourself and cook you own food. Can you imagine living in such a stone-age fashion?”

I don't care about that!” shouted Mary. “I'll cook the food and clean the house myself. I just want to have a baby the natural way, without doing some gene gamble that may give us a kid with green skin or long floppy ears.”

Finally Mary was able to persuade John. They both moved to the small, backward nation, and had a child the old-fashioned way. But John almost divorced Mary after the shock of discovering that he would have to shop for food himself, rather than just telling a robot to go fetch his groceries at the stores.