[LMB] textev - gene cleaning and euthanasia

Gretchen Wright gretchen.m.wright at gmail.com
Wed Oct 16 23:34:49 BST 2019

I'm way late off the mark, but since people were discussing gene cleaning
in the Vorkosiverse, uterine replicators, and so on, I wanted to go back
and dig up a couple quotes, so here they are. My comments continue after
the quotes.

First, the one about UR versus 'old fashioned' gestation on Beta:

On Beta Colony replicators were the most popular choice by three to one,
but a large minority stood by claimed psycho-social advantages to the
old-fashioned natural method. Cordelia had never been able to detect any
difference between vitro and vivo babies, certainly not by the time they
reached adulthood at twenty-two. Her brother had been vivo, herself vitro;
her brother's co-parent had chosen vivo for both her children, and bragged
about it rather a lot.

Second, the one about gene cleaning and the lack of visible disabled people
on Barrayar:

"I see. Strange . . . now that you mention it, I don't recall seeing any
but healthy-looking people, on the streets and so on, except at the
hospital. No float chairs, none of those vacuous faces in the tow of their
parents . . ."

"Nor will you." Vorkosigan looked grim. "Any problems that are detectable
are eliminated before birth."

"Well, we do that, too. Though usually before conception."

"Also at birth. And after, in the backcountry."


"As for the maimed adults . . ."

"Good heavens, you don't practice euthanasia on them, do you?"

"Your Ensign Dubauer would not have lived, here."

Dubauer had taken disruptor fire to the head, and survived. Sort of.

"As for injuries like Koudelka's, or worse . . . the social stigma is very
great. Watch him in a larger group sometime, not his close friends. It's no
accident that the suicide rate among medically discharged soldiers is high."


My comments: I was curious as to how exactly the 'gene cleaning' was
performed on Beta. Cordelia's comment seems a bit vague, perhaps
deliberately so on the author's part. It seems the elimination 'before
conception' could come from either eliminating entire gametes, or by
performing a CRISPR type operation (of course unheard of at the time of
publication) to edit the gametes. I think there may be a more detailed
discussion elsewhere, possibly in _DI_ when Miles is watching the
conception video.

On another note, regarding the Betan women who chose "vivo" births, I had
always read these two quotes together to mean that the children would still
be gene-cleaned. I imagined that the conception could be in vitro, followed
by implantation, not so different from what might happen on earth today.
But I saw another poster (sorry I don't have the attribution) read it to
mean that Cordelia's brother and his children had been conceived in a
'hippy-dippie' fashion and not gene cleaned. I suppose it could be read
either way; since the parents or at least grandparents had been
gene-cleaned, the risk would be fairly low compared to in our world.


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