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Throwing the baby out with the bathwater: a critique of Sparrow's inclusive definition of the term ‘in vitro eugenics’


Sparrow highlights three potential applications of in vitro eugenics, that is, (a) research into the heredity of genetic disorders, (b) production of cell lines with specific genotypes, and (c) breeding better babies, and points to the need for researchers to discuss in advance the potential ethical problems that may emerge if the realization of this technology occurs in the near future. In this commentary, we pose a question for the sake of discussion. Is it, in fact, appropriate to label all three applications raised by Sparrow as eugenics? By doing so, an unnecessary level of concern might be borne among the public, and as a result, the sound development of this specialized technology would be affected. If the label of eugenics is to be applied to all three of these applications, then Sparrow must justify how he perceives (a) and (b) as not inherently different from (c).

  • Stem Cell Research
  • Eugenics
  • Ethics

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