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The Perfect Baby

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As the host of this ABC News special, Barbara Walters shows us heart-wrenching scenes of children suffering from cystic fibrosis and Tay-Sachs; parents whose children were born with Down syndrome are interviewed. We’re updated on the current state of research into what can be done about detecting these conditions before a child is born. Then Walters presides over a panel of physicians discussing the ethics involved in submitting to DNA testing and deciding whether to end pregnancies.

The Perfect Baby is an interesting show, but it’s inaccurately labeled. Investigating couples’ desires to create a ”perfect baby” — to, as Walters says, ”control the genes and chromosomes” to select everything from hair color to IQs — takes up only a small part of this hour.

Walters does one brave thing, although perhaps she didn’t intend it that way. In every interview, she points out that the couple had to decide whether ”to terminate the pregnancy,” and we hear their reactions to the decision. Walters’ unstated point is that the ability to choose an abortion is crucial for them — a controversial observation to make these days, however discreetly.

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