The following case for discussion is from the eText, chapter 18, page 297: Steven and Marisol are a young married couple who are concerned about passing genetic diseases to their children.  Members of Steven’s family have been diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, an incurable genetic disorder that causes cognitive problems, difficulties with movement that ultimately require full-time nursing care, and reduced life expectancy.  Members of Marisol’s family have tested positive for a mutation of the BRCA genes that are strongly associated with breast and ovarian cancer. At a family reunion, they are discussing their decision to use in vitro fertilization and preimplantation genetic screening of embryos.  Seven’s cousin, Valerie, is appalled.  She is opposed to the idea of in vitro fertilization and to the entire idea of genetic screening. Valerie says, “You can’t just choose the babies you want to have.  God will only give you the challenges He knows you can handle.  And if a child is born with a disease, your job is to love that child, no matter what.” Steven is speechless.  But Marisol is not.  “But if we can guarantee that our child is healthy and will live a happy life, shouldn’t we do that?  We don’t want to raise a child who is doomed to genetic diseases.” Valerie shakes her head.  “There is no way to know,” she says.  “Kids get sick and die.  Some who have diseases get better.  You can’t control everything.  And besides, that test-tube baby stuff is really expensive.  How can you afford it?” Now Steven replies, “We want to invest in this procedure now because it might save money in the long run.  I’ve seen how much Huntington’s costs a family – so have you.  I’d rather pay to prevent it now than have to deal with the costs later.” Valerie responds, “That sounds really rude.  It sounds like you resent people who get sick and need your help.  The whole thing is very selfish.” Questions for discussion: What is good or bad, right or wrong, with IVF? If you accept the good of IVF must you also accept the good of designer babies or selecting the gender of the baby you want to have (these options are available to couples today: ? Explain your reasoning. Is it wrong to want to prevent genetic disease?  Is it a wise investment?  Is it selfish to want to control your child’s genes?  Explain your answer.

The case presented raises a number of ethical questions related to in vitro fertilization (IVF) and preimplantation genetic screening (PGS). IVF is a technique in which an egg is fertilized by sperm outside the body and then implanted into the woman’s uterus, while PGS involves screening embryos for genetic diseases before implantation. The questions to consider in this case are whether IVF and PGS are good or bad, right or wrong, whether accepting the good of IVF means accepting the good of designer babies or selecting the gender of the baby, and whether it is wrong to want to prevent genetic diseases, if it is a wise investment, and if it is selfish to want to control a child’s genes.

The moral evaluation of IVF and PGS depends on different moral frameworks and ethical considerations. From a consequentialist perspective, the goodness of IVF and PGS can be evaluated based on their outcomes. IVF can enable individuals or couples who are unable to conceive naturally to have children and experience the joys of parenthood. It also allows individuals with genetic diseases to potentially have healthier offspring by using PGS to select embryos without these diseases. In this regard, IVF and PGS can be seen as beneficial and morally good.

However, from a deontological perspective, which focuses on the inherent moral status of actions themselves, the means by which IVF and PGS are achieved may be of concern. Some people may argue that IVF interferes with the natural process of reproduction and may violate religious or cultural beliefs regarding the sanctity of life. Additionally, the use of PGS to select embryos based on specific genetic traits raises ethical questions about eugenics and the potential for creating a society that favors certain genetic characteristics over others.

Regarding the question of whether accepting the good of IVF means accepting the good of designer babies or selecting the gender of the baby, it is important to distinguish between medical reasons and non-medical reasons for selecting specific genetic traits. Medical reasons, such as preventing genetic diseases, can be seen as ethically justifiable because they aim to improve the health and well-being of the future child. Non-medical reasons, on the other hand, raise ethical concerns because they may involve selecting traits that are purely cosmetic or based on personal preferences, which may contribute to a commodification of children and reinforce societal biases.

As for the question of whether it is wrong to want to prevent genetic diseases and whether it is a wise investment, these considerations depend on individual values and priorities. Preventing genetic diseases can be seen as a morally good action that aims to alleviate suffering and improve the quality of life for individuals and families. From a pragmatic perspective, investing in IVF and PGS to prevent genetic diseases may be considered a wise long-term investment if it can reduce the burden of medical costs associated with treating genetic diseases in the future.

Lastly, the accusation of selfishness for wanting to control a child’s genes is subjective and depends on one’s perspective. Some may argue that parents have the right to make decisions that they believe will benefit their child’s health and well-being, while others may view it as interfering with the natural order or playing God. It is important to consider the autonomy of individuals and their right to reproductive choices while also taking into account the potential consequences and implications of such choices for society as a whole.

In conclusion, the ethical evaluation of IVF and PGS involves considering different moral frameworks, such as consequentialism and deontology, as well as individual values and societal implications. While IVF and PGS can offer benefits in terms of enabling individuals to have children and preventing genetic diseases, there are also ethical concerns related to interference with the natural process of reproduction and the potential for eugenic practices. The acceptability of selecting genetic traits depends on medical versus non-medical reasons, and the question of selfishness in controlling a child’s genes is subjective and depends on individual perspectives. Ultimately, these questions require careful consideration of ethical principles, cultural norms, and individual values to arrive at a well-reasoned stance.