The Parental Investment Factor and the Child's Right to an Open Future

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Hastings Center Report


genetic engineering, assisted reproduction, sex selection


A common objection to directed procreation in which parents choose desirable traits for their children, is that this practice may endanger what Joel Feinberg has termed "the child's right to an open future." Parents who use assisted reproduction and genetic engineering to have a child of the desired sex, or with perfect pitch, may be intolerant if the child chooses other paths. However, that concern is based on the assumption that parents make a big investment in time, money, health, and inconvenience, to beget children with specific traits. That heavy investment is likely to turn normal parental hope into parental entitlement. If selecting the sex of one's child becomes easy, or if parents are already using in vitro fertilization for medical reasons, we have less cause for concern.