Julian Savulescu argues for two principles of reproductive ethics: reproductive autonomy and procreative beneficence, where the principle of procreative beneficence is conceptualised in terms of a duty to have the child, of the possible children that could be had, who will have the best opportunity of the best life. Were it to be accepted, this principle would have significant implications for the ethics of reproductive choice and, in particular, for the use of prenatal testing and other reproductive technologies for the avoidance of disability, and for enhancement. In this paper, it is argued that this principle should be rejected, and it is concluded that while potential parents do have important obligations in relation to the foreseeable lives of their future children, these obligations are not best captured in terms of a duty to have the child with the best opportunity of the best life.

Original publication




Journal article


J Med Ethics

Publication Date





279 - 283


Beneficence, Female, Genetic Predisposition to Disease, Genetic Testing, Humans, Infant, Newborn, Male, Moral Obligations, Parents, Physician-Patient Relations, Pregnancy, Preimplantation Diagnosis, Reproduction