Interests of the Future Child


Modern technology makes it possible for intending parents to make certain choices about the characteristics of their future children, when they seek to establish a pregnancy using in vitro fertilization (IVF) combined with pre‐implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). Moreover, choices about whether or not to continue with a pregnancy are also available in those countries where prenatal screening and pregnancy termination are available. Although by and large these decisions are seen as reflecting the rights of people to make free, uncoerced choices (the concept of reproductive liberty) others condemn them either as eugenic or as amounting to killing children. However, increasing emphasis on the commitment to future generations may increasingly impact on the reproductive decisions made by prospective parents. Arguably, the concept of reproductive liberty may be modified by the notion of intergenerational justice.

Key concepts

  • An understanding of the concept of reproductive liberty.

  • An understanding of the concept of intergenerational justice.

  • An understanding of the arguments for and against the use of Pre‐implantation Genetic Diagnosis.

Keywords: abortion; prenatal screening; pre‐implantation genetic diagnosis; reproductive liberty; intergenerational justice


British Medical Association (1998) Human Genetics. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Kevles D (1985) In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin.

McLean SAM (2000) Intergenerational justice: a brave new world or a leap in the dark? Genetics Law Monitor 1(1): 1–3.

Further Reading

Buchanan A, Brock DW, Daniels D and Wikler D. (2000) From Chance to Choice. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Fletcher JC and Wertz DC (1991) An international code of ethics in medical genetics before the human genome is mapped. In: Bankowski Z and Capron A (eds.) Genetics, Ethics and Human Values: Human Genome Mapping, Genetic Screening and Therapy. XXIV CIOMS Round Table Conference, Geneva.

Human Genetics Commission (UK) (2006) Making babies: reproductive decisions and genetic technologies, London.

Kitcher P (1996) The Lives to Come. New York: Simon & Schuster.

McLean SAM (2006) Modern Dilemmas: Choosing Children. Edinburgh: Capercaillie Books.

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McLean, Sheila AM(Sep 2009) Interests of the Future Child. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0005220.pub2]