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Book cover Science fiction has been preoccupied with technologies to control the characteristics of our children since Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Current arguments about 'designer babies' almost always demand that lines should be drawn and regulations tightened. But where should regulation stop and patient choice in the use of reproductive technology begin?

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The following contributors set out their arguments:

Juliet Tizzard, advocate for advances in reproductive medicine
Professor John Harris, ethicist
Veronica English and Ann Sommerville of the British Medical Association
Josephine Quintavalle, pro-life spokesperson
Agnes Fletcher, disability rights campaigner
Editor: Dr. Ellie Lee Series Editor, Debating Matters

'In the debate around preimplantation and prenatal testing, there are only two possible positions to take. Either one is in favour of women or couples making their own reproductive decisions or one is not. I am in favour of women and couples making that choice. What is worrying is not unrestrained choice, but the participation of third parties in that decision-making process: doctors, politicians, lawyers or even pressure groups.'
Juliet Tizzard
director of Progress Educational Trust

'Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, in my view, should never be used to choose 'desirable' characteristics. It risks profoundly eugenic outcomes'
Agnes Fletcher
a disabled woman with an inheritable impairment

'Nowadays, parents can artificially control many aspects of reproduction...Careful regulation will be needed to maintain appropriate limits. Perhaps most importantly, a preoccupation with genetics must not lead to neglect of social, political and other non-genetic solutions to the health management of future generations. For the vast majority of the world's populations, these areas are where the really important solutions have to be found'.
Veronica English
Deputy Head of the Medical Ethics Department and
Ann Sommerville
Head of the Medical Ethics Department, at the British Medical Association

'The presumption must be in favour of the liberty to access Artificial Reproductive Technologies unless good and sufficient reasons can be shown against so doing...Reproductive choices, whether or not they prove to be protected by a right to procreative liberty or autonomy, have without doubt a claim to be taken seriously as moral claims. As such they may not simply be dismissed wherever and whenever a voting majority can be assembled against them'.
John Harris
Sir David Alliance Professor of Bioethics in the University of Manchester, and a member of the United Kingdom Human Genetics Commission

'As new reproductive technology stands today, the old tradition which viewed the child as an 'accident of birth' to be accepted unequivocally, remains the best choice and is far more worthy of a just and civilized society than the current eugenic dream of designing perfect babies'.
Josephine Quintavalle
co-founder of Comment on Reproductive Ethics (CORE), pro-life commentator and activist

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