Designer Babies and Eugenics

From Human Enhancement and Biopolitics:

With all the cries that selecting one’s babies will lead to a situation like that portrayed in Gattaca, nobody seems to realise that the movie’s portrayal of public coercion to have a particular sort of baby is already happening. The only difference is the ’sort’ of baby that parents are being pushed, by social pressures, to have.

Yep. A similar argument can be made about outright state coercion. It’s always puzzled me how the eugenics movement of the 20th century, which arbitrarily defined what genetic traits were desirable and used the coercive power of state to promote them, can be equated with parents being at liberty to use biotechnology to give their children genetic traits the individual parents find desirable. Any attempt to regulate what genetic traits parents can foster in their children involves the state defining what is to count as an authentic and acceptable human life and using its coercive power to enforce that standard. Sounds like eugenics to me, but with a different value of eu-.

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