Choosing Children: Genes, Disability, and Design

Choosing Children: Genes, Disability, and Design

Choosing Children: Genes, Disability, and Design

Choosing Children: Genes, Disability, and Design

Synopsis

Genetic and reproductive technology now offers us the possibility of choosing what kinds of children we do and don't have. Should we welcome this power, or should we fear its implications? The renowned moral philosopher and best-selling author Jonathan Glover suggests how we should try to deal with this urgent problem.

Surely parents owe it to their children to keep them free from disabilities? But there is a powerful new challenge from people who have these conditions: how do we justify trying to avoid bringing people like them into being? Jonathan Glover also examines the emotive idea of "eugenics," and the ethics of attempting to enhance people genetically for non-medical reasons. Should parents be free to choose, for instance, the color of their children's eyes or hair? What impact will such interventions have, both on the individuals concerned and on society as a whole?
This beautifully clear book is written for anyone who is concerned about our human future.

Excerpt

Progress in genetics and in reproductive technologies gives us growing power to reduce the incidence of disabilities and disorders. Should we welcome this power, or should we fear its implications?

The case for optimism is not hard to see. Disabilities and disorders often (though not always) mean that people have less good lives than they would have had. They may have lives with more pain and more periods in hospital than others have. They may find many things harder to achieve than others do. These disadvantages can be seen as a huge natural injustice, affecting many people, which wherever possible should be removed.

There is also the possibility of going beyond the reduction or elimination of disabilities and disorders. It may be possible for other genetic choices to give children a better start. Perhaps we will be able to give them a better chance of having abilities—or qualities of temperament and character—that will enrich their lives.

The case for pessimism is not hard to see either. The new science and medicine sometimes enable us to cure the disorders people have. But often, the elimination of disability is by means of preventing the birth of disabled people, whether by antenatal screening programmes or by pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. Some say this is like Nazi eugenics. There is also concern about the . . .

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