Frankenstein and the Question of Children’s Rights After Human Germline Genetic Modification
Prominent critics and skeptics of genetic engineering have treated the ethical issue of human germline genetic modification (HGGM) as if it were still science fiction, like the artificially made Creature imagined in Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein. After surveying the history of making genetically modified (GM) children through three-person IVF since the late 1990s, I sketch a framework for a normative political theory of the rights of the GM children made from heritable biotechnological interventions in the human genome. In light of the history and trajectory of HGGM, the preeminent hard question is no longer “Should science genetically engineer children?” An equally difficult question is “What are the rights of the GM child?” The source of all speculative fiction, Frankenstein presciently addresses the latter question by having the Creature articulate a child’s fundamental and universal rights to both parental love and nondiscrimination, regardless of reproductive circumstances or genetic features.
KeywordsFrankenstein Children’s rights Genetic engineering Three-person IVF CRISPR-Cas9
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