Given the historical horrors associated with eugenics, it should be unsurprising that criticisms of liberal eugenics – whether regarding permission or obligation – are numerous and varied. Proponents have tried to address some of those criticisms in more or less convincing ways. In this section, we discuss some of the most significant criticisms that have been presented against liberal eugenics.
Some critics point out the difficulty of making meaningful comparisons about what is the “best” life (de Melo Martin 2004; Parker 2007). Other theorists – attentive to pervasive unjust discrimination in respect to sexism, racism, classism, and heterosexism – emphasize the broadly negative consequences of promoting or allowing liberal eugenic policies, given the aggregation of many individual choices, and the slippery slope to an older style of coercive eugenics (Duster 1990; Sparrow 2011a). When some parents insist that eliminating a trait will increase their child’s relative freedom and the group of people who live with that trait point to the ways in which that choice contributes to and reinforces social prejudice against their group (Lane and Grodin 1997; Saxton 2000; Asch 2000; Kaposy 2018), how are we to proceed with the regulation of “liberal” eugenics? Other critics call attention to the problematic conceptions of disability that underlie many of the arguments as well as the negative effects liberal eugenics is likely to have on existing people with disabilities (Asch 1999; Saxton 2000; Amundson 2005). Still other critics highlight potential damage to some core values, such as our conception of ourselves (Habermas 2003), what it means to be human (Sandel 2007; Kass 2003), and the parent-child relationship.