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Human Genetic Selection and Enhancement

Parental Perspectives and Law

Marta Soniewicka and Wojciech Lewandowski

Among all human practices, procreation seems the most paradoxical. It starts as a fully personal choice and ends with the creation of a new subject of rights and responsibilities. Advances in reproductive genetics pose new ethical and legal questions. They are expected to prevent the transmission of genetic diseases to progeny and also to improve genetically-endowed mental and physical attributes. Genetic selection and enhancement may affect a child’s identity, as well as the parent-child relationship. The authors are committed to a pluralistic approach that captures all aspects of this relationship in terms of moral virtues and principles. They elucidate that most of the conflicts between parental preferences and a child’s rights could be resolved with reference to the meaning and nature of procreation.

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2 The criteria of rationality in genetic selection

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Future parents are faced with many choices and decisions. The most common of these are when to have a child, how many to have, our short and long-term plans concerning how we plan to assure the child of the requisite conditions needed to guarantee a better life, their health and their vision of the family. The number of such decisions grows considerably when assisted procreation is concerned and includes the choice of clinic, donor, surrogate or embryo. Each of these decisions may be regarded as existential ones since it is upon these that questions such as those concerning whether the child will exist and what their life will be like are decided. It is of the utmost importance that such decisions are taken rationally.

Does a moral obligation exist which states that the decision to have a baby must be a rational one? Since there is a chance that one may become a parent in an unplanned, accidental manner, there is a chance that this requirement may not be fulfilled. From the popular perspective, the rational requirement in relation to natural childbirth tends to be lower. This usually means that it suffices for certain conditions to be met: the rational potential of the parents usually means they are adults, capable of living independently, are free of any transmittable diseases which might adversely affect the health of the child and a willingness to bring them up and ensure that they have a good start in life. In...

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