April 21, 2022

Catholic Law Professor Emeritus George P. Smith recently had his article, “Pursuing a Right to Genetic Happiness,” published by The Journal of Law in Society. Smith’s work focuses on reproductive freedom and “‘new’ eugenics” and looks at the exploration of “procreativity, liberty, and determining which restrictions are reasonable to impose upon its exercise.”

The Journal of Law in Society
By: George P. Smith
Date: Winter 2022
Pursuing a Right to Genetic Happiness

"With the continued expansion of assisted reproductive technology (ART), and society's inability to regulate it, complex medico-legal issues and ethical and social dilemmas are arising. Although the desire to prevent or limit genetic disease by, for example, gene editing and mitochondrial transfer is noble, what has been termed the "customization" of birth, raises the fundamental issue of procreative liberty, and, more specifically, the extent to which the state is obligated to assist in the use of ART which, in turn, validate the quest for genetic happiness. There is a current notion that reproductive freedom includes, within it, a right to a genetically connected child free from disease or, in other words, one who has benefitted from positive eugenics. Presently, there is no right, qua right, to genetic happiness, nor is there any obligation of the state to assure that progeny born have good genes. Today, when medical errors occur during usages of ART, the eponymous tort of negligence is available as the most traditional approach to recovery of money damages. The inherent weaknesses of this practice are explored critically and suggestions made for new strategies - especially through recognition of the new torts of Reproductive Negligence or Wrongful Genetic Manipulation."

To access the full article, click here.