Suppose that a friend has written to you, asking for your advice as an expert in biomedical ethics. She and her husband want to have a baby, and because both have a family history of Tay Sachs, they went in for screening to determine if they were carriers. It turns out that neither of them is a carrier, however they are both carriers of the genetic marker for the newly discovered Constant Unhappiness Disease. CUD causes sufferers to be pretty annoyed with the way things are for their entire lives, no matter what happens to them. They take pleasure in neither simple enjoyments nor ambitious achievements of any sort. They also tend to mean-spirited, selfish, rude and spiteful to others, spreading misery wherever they go.
Your friend’s doctor has suggested that she might use in vitro fertilization (IVF) and pre-implantation genetic screening of embryos to ensure that she has a child who does not suffer from CUD. The doctor has also suggested that they could use an additional test to select an embryo that has your friend’s high cheekbones and symmetrical facial structure, rather than her husband’s slightly lumpy and undistinguished features, and that they might select for certain alleles in the newly discovered Shaq-A Tac gene cluster that apparently code for height, athleticism and other aspects of basketball ability.
How will you advise your friend? Should she use IVF with screening to select a child who will not have CUD? Should she also ensure that the child will be good-looking and good at basketball? Decide which option is morally the best, and give arguments why it is superior to the others.
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