What choices should we be able to make about designer babies? A Citizens' Jury of young people in South Wales

Health Expect. 2006 Sep;9(3):207-17. doi: 10.1111/j.1369-7625.2006.00387.x.


Background: Young people will increasingly have the option of using new technologies for reproductive decision making but their voices are rarely heard in debates about acceptable public policy in this area. Capturing the views of young people about potentially esoteric topics, such as genetics, is difficult and methodologically challenging.

Design: A Citizens' Jury is a deliberative process that presents a question to a group of ordinary people, allows them to examine evidence given by expert witnesses and personal testimonies and arrive at a verdict. This Citizens' Jury explored designer babies in relation to inherited conditions, saviour siblings and sex selection with young people.

Participants: Fourteen young people aged 16-19 in Wales.

Results: Acceptance of designer baby technology was purpose-specific; it was perceived by participants to be acceptable for preventing inherited conditions and to create a child to save a sibling, but was not recommended for sex selection. Jurors stated that permission should not depend on parents' age, although some measure of suitability should be assessed. Preventing potential parents from going abroad was considered impractical. These young people felt the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority should have members under 20 and that the term 'designer baby' was not useful.

Conclusions: Perspectives on the acceptability of this technology were nuanced, and based on implicit value judgements about the extent of individual benefit derived. Young people have valuable and interesting contributions to make to the debate about genetics and reproductive decision making and a variety of innovative methods must be used to secure their involvement in decision-making processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Eugenics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Public Opinion*
  • Sex Preselection
  • Wales