The issue of human genetic enhancement often elicits intense and widespread debate. Opponents of the practice contend that genetic enhancement raises significant ethical questions, necessitating the need to abolish or limit it. Ethical issues arising from genetic enhancement include social justice, equality, autonomy, and parental motives.
Concerns over the potential impact of human genetic engineering on social justice and equality often arise whenever the issue is discussed. Genetic enhancement may undermine societal equality and social justice (Walton, 2017). Genetic enhancement is costly, often requiring participants to invest significant amounts of resources in the process. Not many individuals worldwide possess the financial might to sanction the genetic enhancement of their offspring.
Therefore, fear exists that genetic engineering will remain a preserve of the wealthy in society. Only those individuals who have the financial capabilities to seek these services will have offspring with better hereditary qualities. Therefore, genetic engineering would result in inequality in society.
Furthermore, the issue of autonomy is contentious in genetic engineering discussions. According to Massmann (2019), cloning or genetic engineering undermines the autonomy of the offspring.
All humans have the right to be conceived and develop into whole moral beings through natural means. However, through genetic enhancement, offspring resulting from the process may not have full capabilities to assume responsibility for their morality since they were not the undivided authors of their conception.
Parental motives also form a significant part of why genetic enhancement in humans occurs. Prospective parents often pursue enhancement to develop better traits in their offspring (Ishii, 2017). For instance, these parents may want their children to experience heightened intelligence levels or better physical attributes than the general population.
Furthermore, prospective parents may seek genetic engineering services to eliminate perceived weaknesses or shortcomings in their offspring. For example, parents may seek enhancement to eliminate the trait if the family has a history of a certain undesired genetic condition. Thus, parental motives play a significant role in genetic enhancement.
Ethical issues arising from genetic enhancement include social justice, equality, autonomy, and parental motives. The costly nature of genetic enhancement means that only wealthy individuals can afford it, undermining social justice and equality in society. Moreover, enhancement challenges the autonomy of offspring and emanates from parental motives to develop better offspring.