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View Procreative beneficence

Procreative beneficence refers to a moral obligation of parents to have the healthiest children through all natural and artificial means available. The term was coined by Julian Savulescu, a professor of applied ethics at St. Cross College in Oxford. In his paper, he focuses on sex selection and genes that may have an influence on intelligence and argues that"couples (or single reproducers) should select the child, of the possible children they could have, who is expected to have the best life, or at least as good a life as the others, based on the relevant, available information.” It is especially relevant to the case of choosing among multiple embryos produced by in-vitro fertilization, although it also applies to prenatal diagnosis and abortion decision-making so long as the mother can have another pregnancy. The principle also applies to future decision-making about prenatal genetic engineering of children.

The procreative beneficence principle is controversial. Some critics argue that such a principle would lead to a loss of diversity and neurodiversity in particular. Advocates respond that we already consider it an obligation that parents take care to ensure the health of fetuses by means such as vitamin supplements and avoiding activities that are likely to harm the fetus, and that procreative beneficence is an extension of that obligation. Critics also argue that procreative beneficence could limit diversity by creating an obligation to select for a specific set of traits.

However, procreative beneficence is a moral principle, not a government policy. It does not necessarily imply that parents should be legally obliged to select for a narrow set of traits or that neurodiversity should be legally limited. Rather, it only implies that parents are morally obligated to"select embryos or fetuses which are most likely to have the best life, based on available genetic information, including information about non-disease genes,” and does not preclude there being a variety of traits and attributes that may produce the best outcome.

Progressive Dialogue and Procreative Freedom

Julian Savulescu: Procreative beneficence: why we should select the best children

Fox, Dov, The Illiberality of Liberal Eugenics (August 3, 2012). 20 RATIO 1 (2007).