Eugenics of the FutureEmbryo Eugenics

Whilst the medical profession as a whole has strongly condemned the actions of the Nazi physicians, where does this leave us today? Could the potential ability to create ‘ideal’ offspring with reproductive technologies really enable a resurgence of the eugenic ideals so graphically played out in the early 20th century?

Much of the debate surrounding reproductive technologies today surrounds the most recent advancements that enable a form of selection to occur with regards to the nature of the desired embryo.

Examples of such practice include the use of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to enable the selection of an embryo that will be a suitable tissue match for an already existing child, a so-called ’saviour sibling; or conversely, its use to select against an embryo known to be positive for a genetic mutation/condition.

Further details with regards to PGD are available in ‘Embryo and the Law”

As such, the general ethical principles of autonomy and beneficence may more appropriately be applied in this context as:

Procreative autonomy: A person’s right to control their own role in procreation unless the state has a compelling reason for denying them that control.

Procreative beneficence: The idea that couples or (single reproducers) should select the child, of the possible children they could have, who is expected to have the best life, or at least as good as life as the others, based on the relevant, available information.

Bearing the above in mind, many have likened the debate surrounding our present position with regards to designer babies as being poised at the top of a philosophical ‘slippery slope‘.