Towards a right to a perfect child?
PhD student: Mrs A. Cassiers
Promotors: Mrs Dr C.H.H. Declerck, G. Mathieu
Duration: 1/10/2017 - 30/9/2023
Today, a child is not born by chance anymore. He is often wanted, wished. Among the future parents, some of them hope for a child who looks like them, a girl or a boy, if possible smart, healthy, beautiful, strong or talented; or at least do not wish a child with some disabilities. If it is not yet possible to choose all these characteristics, this will be possible in a near future: more and more biotechnologies are available to ensure such choices, like the diagnostic prenatal combined with abortion, the preimplantation genetic diagnostic and screening, the gametes banks, several technics for sex-selection, technics to create embryos from one or three person(s) or to create saving-babies, etc. Medical engineering does not stop to progress; as long technics are not forbidden, there are legally allowed. Today, most of the mentioned biotechnologies are not, or almost not, regulated. In time, we should think about the legal limits to place on these developments. This research aims therefore to answer the following question: Should it be possible for the parents to choose the characteristics of their child, insofar the medical science allows it?. Firstly, we will look at the different ethical approaches concerning the challenges linked to the present and future gene technology. We will analyse the main arguments of the vast literature on embryo selection and human enhancement, which will be divided in three main categories: arguments for the promotion of embryos selection and modification, threats concerning such selection or enhancement, and some arguments from the in-between position. By this analysis, we will determine which are the morally suitable selections and modifications that allow the choice or the refusal of some genetic characteristics by the parents. Secondly, we will study the different legal instruments applicable to this situation, both at international level and national level. At the moment, only few legislations go through genetic manipulations and selections. Therefore, we will examine whether it exists a right to have a child and which principles apply to this right, and we will consider to which extent it should be possible to transpose these principles to the right to have a perfect child. In the first chapter, the focus will be on the international level, with a specific attention for the European case-law. The second chapter will deal with the Belgian legislation, and the thirst one will propose a comparative approach with some other countries. Through this study, we will consider not only the legal perspective but we will confront it with its concrete application by fertilisation centres: How is it applied? Which are the legislative shortcoming? Which problems are actually raising considering the biotechnological developments? Finally, we will formulate a set of recommendations for the development of future legislations concerning the use of gene technologies to select and enhance the human species.