Does human genome editing reinforce or violate human dignity?

Bioethics 34 (1):33-40 (2019)
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Germline genome editing is often disapproved of at the international policy level because of its possible threats to human dignity. However, from a critical perspective the relationship between this emerging technology and human dignity is relatively understudied. We explore the main principles that are referred to when 'human dignity' is invoked in this context; namely, the link with eugenics, the idea of a common genetic heritage, the principle of equal birth and broader equality and justice concerns. Yet the concept is also used in favour of germline genome editing as it might improve the overall well-being of future generations. We conclude that dignity concerns do not justify a complete ban on safe heritable genome editing but should inform the implementation of side constraints to ensure that the value judgements about human traits that are inherent in this practice do not result in a diminished basic respect for those people affected by them.



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