Newgenics: The Principle of Procreative Beneficence and the Revival of Heredity-Conditional Fundamental Rights Analysis


The word “eugenics” has been revived in the language of contemporary bioethics with the advent of novel reproductive technologies. The eugenic selection of embryos ex utero has been made possible by the artificial reproductive processes of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). This thesis examines the aims, means, and ends of pre-implantation embryonic interventions through the lens of historical eugenics. Professor Julian Savulescu’s principle of procreative beneficence (PPB) is juxtaposed with the political and jurisprudential defenses for eugenic interventions advanced in the interwar period in the United Kingdom and the United States. It is submitted that contemporary advocates for eugenic embryonic intervention rely upon philosophical assumptions analogous to those of the historical eugenics movement. It is demonstrated that both require the rejection of a theory of individual rights based on human agency, advocating instead for a distributive model of individual rights regulated by the subjective evaluation of inherent genetic worth.