Should Genetic Manipulation of Embryos Be Allowed?


Genetic engineering shouldn’t be used to make changes to unborn children.

Q1 Analysis

This is not a Q1 violation if you think that genetic engineering for any reason is wrong or you think that any non-natural attempt to effect an unborn child’s health is wrong.

Q2 Analysis

This is a Q2 violation if you would want the option of making a genetic change to your unborn child or honestly wish that your parents had been able to make changes to you.


If you are completely against genetic manipulation of embryos, then you don’t have to worry about the fine details of where to draw your philosophical line in the sand on this issue. You’re against genetic manipulation of embryos and that’s it. But before you can hold such an opinion you must compare the strength of your reasons for being against genetic manipulation with the possible benefit to children of allowing them to be changed before birth. For example, could the bad of allowing genetic manipulation be offset by the good of correcting a birth defect that would kill a newborn in a week?

If you are not in principle against genetic manipulation, you need to decide what limits (if any) should be placed on it. For example, which of the following could ethically be changed through embryonic genetic manipulation?

It may help you to answer these questions to decide whether there is any moral difference between a manipulation that parents desire, a manipulation that the child could reasonably expect to desire when it is older, and a manipulation the child clearly needs to survive or thrive.

If some kinds of genetic manipulation are allowed, you might have different feelings about different methods of manipulation. Would it make a difference if the genetic procedure was to:

There is also the question of who should decide whether or not an embryo should undergo a genetic procedure. Could a father insist on the procedure against a mother’s wishes? Could a court order a life-saving procedure against the wishes of parents whose religion teaches against genetic engineering?

You are encouraged to leave your answers to the questions posed in this post in the comments section. This post is based on an excerpt from Ask Yourself to be Moral, by D. Cancilla, available at and See the 2Q system page for details of the philosophical system mentioned in this post.

Posted on November 19, 2010 at 9:44 pm by ideclare · Permalink
In: 2Q

One Response

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  1. Written by Pratik Ray
    on November 29, 2010 at 9:38 am
    Reply · Permalink

    I’d be definitely okay with changing an unborn child genetically for the first two cases. For the next two cases & for the 8th one, I’d have to weigh the risk against the benefit. And for the rest of them I won’t be morally or ethically okay with.

    For the next question, I think it would not make any reasonable difference if the reason to do the manipulation agrees with my answer to the first question.

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