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Parental procreative obligation and the categorisation of disease: the case of cystic fibrosis
  1. Gabriel T Bosslet1,2
  1. 1Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, Allergy, and Occupational Medicine, Indianapolis, Indianapolis, USA
  2. 2Charles Warren Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethics, Clarian Health, Indianapolis, Indianapolis, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Gabriel T Bosslet, Department of Internal Medicine, Indiana University Medical Center, 1481 West 10th Street, 111P-IU, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA; gbosslet{at}


The advent of prenatal genetic diagnosis has sparked debates among ethicists and philosophers regarding parental responsibility towards potential offspring. Some have attempted to place moral obligations on parents to not bring about children with certain diseases in order to prevent harm to such children. There has been no rigorous evaluation of cystic fibrosis in this context. This paper will demonstrate cystic fibrosis to have unique properties that make it difficult to categorise among other diseases with the goal of promulgating a reproductive rule. Once this is established, it will be demonstrated that procreative rules that appeal to future health are inadequate in the era of advancing genetic knowledge. Utilising a specification of Joel Feinberg's ‘open future’ concept outlined by Matteo Mameli, it will offer an analysis of parental obligation that does not constrain parents of potential children with cystic fibrosis with a moral obligation not to bring them about.

  • Cystic fibrosis
  • ethics
  • failure of contraception/wrongful birth
  • health care for specific diseases/groups
  • human genome project
  • moral obligations
  • prenatal genetic diagnosis
  • quality/value of life/personhood
  • psychopharmacology

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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