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Balancing Procreative Autonomy and Parental Responsibility

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 March 2011


In Rationality and the Genetic Challenge: Making People Better? Matti Häyry provides a clear and informed discussion and analysis of a number of competing answers to the above questions. Häyry describes three main perspectives on the morality of prenatal genetic diagnosis (PGD), the “restrictive,” “moderate,” and “permissive” views, and his analysis illuminates that these views can be distinguished in terms of their different “rationalities”—their respective understanding of what counts as a reasonable choice for parents to make in light of PGD.

Special Section: Methodology in Philosophical Bioethics
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

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1. Häyry, M.Rationality and the Genetic Challenge: Making People Better? Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press; 2010:58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

2. See note 1, Häyry 2010:52–77.

3. In what follows we use the terms “embryo” and “future child” interchangeably and understand that there can both single parents and couples.

4. See note 1, Häyry 2010:75.

5. Savulescu, J.Procreative beneficence: Why we should select the best children. Bioethics 2001;15:413–26CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed; Savulescu, J.In defense of procreative beneficence. Journal of Medical Ethics 2007;33:284–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Savulescu, J, Kahane, G.The moral obligation to create children with the best chance of the best life. Bioethics 2009;23:274–90.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed

6. See note 5, Savulescu, Kahane 2009:280.

7. See note 5, Savulescu, Kahane 2009:274.

8. See note 5, Savulescu, Kahane 2009:276.

9. Parker, M.The best possible child. Journal of Medical Ethics 2007;33:279–83.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed

10. There are additional reasons for objection to PB that have been raised elsewhere, for example, Stoller, S.Why we are not required to select the best children: A response to Savulescu. Bioethics 2008;22:364–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Bennett, R.The fallacy of the principle of procreative beneficence. Bioethics 2009;23:265–73.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed

11. See note 5, Savulescu, Kahane 2009:278.

12. See note 1, Häyry 2010:Chap. 4.

13. See note 1, Häyry 2010:83; Harris, J.Is there a coherent social conception of disability? Journal of Medical Ethics 2002;26:97.Google Scholar

14. See note 1, Häyry 2010:84.

15. See note 1, Häyry 2010:94.

16. Häyry raises a third objection against the social view concerning the distribution of scarce resources. Though Häyry’s justice concern is an important one, we are not sure that it is an argument against the social view per say. It may be an argument against selecting for disabled children, however, regardless of the social nature of the disabilities.

17. Vehmas, S.Is it wrong to deliberately conceive or give birth to a child with mental retardation? Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 2002;27:47–63.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed

18. According to Savulescu and Kahane, social prejudice should be excluded from conditions that influence the well-being afforded by a specific trait. Where Savulescu and Kahane appear to assume that social prejudice will not be a significant factor in most diseases and defects, proponents of the social view would disagree. See note 5, Savulescu, Kahane 2009:286–9.

19. See, for example, Asch, A.Prenatal diagnosis and selective abortion: A challenge to practice and policy. American Journal of Public Health 1999;89:1649–57.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed

20. See note 5, Savulescu 2001:425.