Is gene therapy a form of eugenics?

Bioethics. 1993 Apr;7(2-3):178-87. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8519.1993.tb00283.x.


If, as I believe, gene therapy is in principle ethically sound except for its possible connection with eugenics then there are two obvious ways of giving a simple and straightforward answer to a question such as this. The first is to say "yes it is, and so what?" The second is to say "no it isn't so we shouldn't worry". If we accept the first of the above definitions we might well be inclined to give the first of our two answers. If on the other hand, we accept the sort of gloss that Ruth Chadwick gives on Galton's account, "those who are genetically weak should simply be discouraged from reproducing", either by incentives or compulsory measures, we get a somewhat different flavour, and one which might incline a decent person who favours gene therapy towards the second answer.

MeSH terms

  • Disabled Persons
  • Disease
  • Ethical Theory
  • Ethics*
  • Eugenics*
  • Fetal Diseases / therapy
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn
  • Genetic Therapy*
  • Germ Cells
  • Health
  • Humans
  • Intelligence
  • Moral Obligations
  • Preimplantation Diagnosis
  • Reproduction
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted
  • Social Responsibility
  • Wounds and Injuries