Genetically Engineering ‘Ethical’ Babies is a Moral Obligation, says Oxford Professor

Professor Julian Savulescu said that creating so-called designer babies could be considered a “moral obligation” as it makes them grow up into “ethically better children”.

The expert in practical ethics said that we should actively give parents the choice to screen out personality flaws in their children as it meant they were then less likely to “harm themselves and others”.

The academic, who is also editor-in-chief of the Journal of Medical Ethics, made his comments in an article in the latest edition of Reader’s Digest.

He explained that we are now in the middle of a genetic revolution and that although screening, for all but a few conditions, remained illegal it should be welcomed.

He said that science is increasingly discovering that genes have a significant influence on personality – with certain genetic markers in embryo suggesting future characteristics.

By screening in and screening out certain genes in the embryos, it should be possible to influence how a child turns out.

In the end, he said that “rational design” would help lead to a better, more intelligent and less violent society in the future.

“Surely trying to ensure that your children have the best, or a good enough, opportunity for a great life is responsible parenting?” wrote Prof Savulescu, the Uehiro Professor in practical ethics.

“So where genetic selection aims to bring out a trait that clearly benefits an individual and society, we should allow parents the choice.

“To do otherwise is to consign those who come after us to the ball and chain of our squeamishness and irrationality.

“Indeed, when it comes to screening out personality flaws, such as potential alcoholism, psychopathy and disposition to violence, you could argue that people have a moral obligation to select ethically better children.

“They are, after all, less likely to harm themselves and others.”

“If we have the power to intervene in the nature of our offspring — rather than consigning them to the natural lottery — then we should.”

He said that we already routinely screen embryos and foetuses for conditions such as cystic fibrosis and Down’s syndrome and couples can test embryos for inherited bowel and breast cancer genes.

Rational design is just a natural extension of this, he said.

He said that unlike the eugenics movements, which fell out of favour when it was adopted by the Nazis, the system would be voluntary and allow parents to choose the characteristics of their children.

“We’re routinely screening embryos and foetuses for conditions such as cystic fibrosis and Down’s syndrome, and there’s little public outcry,” he said.

“What’s more, few people protested at the decisions in the mid- 2000s to allow couples to test embryos for inherited bowel and breast cancer genes, and this pushes us a lot close to creating designer humans.”

“Whether we like it or not, the future of humanity is in our hands now. Rather than fearing genetics, we should embrace it. We can do better than chance.”

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4 Comments on Genetically Engineering ‘Ethical’ Babies is a Moral Obligation, says Oxford Professor

  1. It is the parents’ job to train children, to nurture character development, to establish early on the respect for the difference between right and wrong. Where is morality in the science lab?

  2. I agree. Isaiah 5:20-21 comes to mind: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.

  3. Being able to do things like operate on a baby in the womb to do something like correct a heart defect is wonderful. This is entirely another matter.

    He said, “We’re routinely screening embryos and foetuses for conditions such as cystic fibrosis and Down’s syndrome, and there’s little public outcry.” They’re “routinely” aborting (killing) those embryos and fetuses, ie, BABIES, and there is plenty of public outcry…they’re just ignoring it.

    I wonder if they believe in God. If they do, they evidently think that God makes mistakes. They obviously don’t believe that the Bible is the true word of God or they would not ignore scripture such as: “For you (God) created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:13-15. This tells us that God is involved in the life of a person from even BEFORE they are conceived. He has a purpose for all of us.

    “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.” Deuteronomy 30:19, (part). God tells us “…to love the Lord your God and to walk always in his ways…Do this so that INNOCENT BLOOD will not be shed in your land, which the Lord your God is giving you…and so that you will not be guilty of bloodshed.” Deuteronomy 19:19:8-10, (part).

    We also don’t wonder why our country, that taxes us and uses that money to pay for abortions, the SHEDDING OF INNOCENT BLOOD, is being judged. “…do not put an innocent person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty.” Exodus 23:7. May God have mercy on us.

  4. We can do better than CHANCE? As if God’s plan is mere chance? The irony is that this so-called “expert in practical ethics” is advocating something that is exceedingly unethical.

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