When two Italian-Australian utilitarian bioethicists declared in the Journal of Medical Ethics that infanticide (or after-birth abortion) was morally permissible, they lit the fuse on a world-wide storm of condemnation. But a proposal which may be even more controversial has popped up in the April issue of the American Journal of Bioethics. Two bioethicists contend that some parents are morally obligated to use pre-implantation genetic diagnosis to create a healthy baby. Janet Malek, of East Carolina University, and Judith F. Daar, of Whittier Law School, in California, argue that eventually the law should and will impose “a duty on IVF-reproducing parents to maximize the well-being of their future offspring by all reasonable means.” Why? The authors cite three reasons: increasing the child’s well-being, expanding his or her self-determination, and reducing inequalities. If this reasoning evokes the notorious “after-birth abortion” article, this may be because the authors rely upon ground broken by Julian Savulescu, Guy Kahane and John Harris, three utilitarians working in Britain who influenced the authors of the previous article. The British bioethicists are pushing "procreative beneficence" -- the notion that parents should endow their baby with the best possible qualities. Malek and Daar argue that this is morally good not only because it has good consequences (ie, stronger, healthier, more intelligent kids) but it also promotes fairness and autonomy.
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