As the use of genetics to select such things as a child’s eye color becomes possible, the question of what selections should be allowed becomes more pressing.

In this week’s issue of the British Medical Journal, ethicist Julian Savulescu argues that there are good reasons for allowing people to choose to have babies with specific disabilities.

In “Deaf lesbians, ‘designer disability,’ and the future of medicine,” Savulescu, Director of the Ethics Program at the The Murdoch Institute at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, argues that the problem centres on who gets to define “the best life prospects.”

“My value judgement should not be imposed on couples who must bear and rear the child. Nor should the value judgement of doctors, politicians, or the state be imposed directly or indirectly (through the denial of services) on them,” he says.

While we can attempt to engage people in a dialogue to influence their decisions, Savulescu says, in the end we must respect their decisions — so long as their exercise of freedom does not harm others.