May 30, 2024


A British bioethicist has come up with a novel argument in favour of genetic engineering: it is non-judgemental. Currently parents in the UK are only allowed to use pre-implantation genetic diagnosis for serious medical ailments, not for sex and not for minor traits such as eye colour. Writing in BioNews, Dr Colin Gavaghan, of the University of Glasgow, argues that, paradoxically, restricting parental choice sends a message to children that their DNA was so flawed that without PGD they would be better off never having been born.

It would be more sensible and less discriminatory, he contends, to allow screening for all traits, whether or not they are related to a disability. In that way, “it might be possible to argue that the value society is upholding is that of reproductive choice, whatever that choice may be”. No judgement would be passed on the value of disabled lives. Dr Gavaghan pursues this line of thinking at greater length in his new book, “Defending the Genetic Supermarket: The Law and Ethics of Selecting the Next Generation”.