In Vitro Gametogenesis and the Creation of 'Designer Babies'

Seppe Segers*, Guido Pennings, Wybo Dondorp, Guido de Wert, Heidi Mertes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Research into the development of stem cell-derived (SCD) gametes in humans, otherwise known as in vitro gametogenesis (IVG), is largely motivated by reproductive aims. Especially, the goal of establishing genetic parenthood by means of SCD-gametes is considered an important aim. However, like other applications in the field of assisted reproduction, this technology evokes worries about the possibility of creating so-called 'designer babies.' In this paper, we investigate various ways in which SCD-gametes could be used to create such preference-matched offspring, and what this would mean for the acceptability of IVG, if it is premised that it is morally problematic to 'design' offspring. We argue that IVG might facilitate the creation of preference-matched offspring, but conclude that this should not undermine the moral acceptability of IVG altogether-even if one concedes the premise that creating 'designer babies' is morally problematic. In the light of this, we also point at a possible inconsistency for a position that condemns the creation of 'designer offspring,' while accepting the various endeavors to have genetically related offspring.

Original languageEnglish
Article number0963180119000422
Pages (from-to)499-508
Number of pages10
JournalCambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


  • in vitro gametogenesis
  • gamete derivation
  • artificial gametes
  • genetic parenthood
  • assisted reproduction
  • stem cells
  • gene editing
  • designer babies

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