I am currently working my way through Mass Effect 2. In the original game the story of the krogan genophage was told and the story continues in ME2. The basic idea:
The krogan are extremely dangerous alien fighters. They also reproduce like crazy.
If the krogan are left alone their population explodes and they end up conquering and destroying everyone.
Other species decided to infect the krogan with a tailored genophage that drastically reduced their fertility; only one in a thousand krogan newborns is born alive. This was done to keep the krogan population steady and keep them from becoming an unstoppable threat without destroying them.
The genophage has caused all kinds of bad changes in krogan society and outlook.
Question: Is creating the genophage ethical?
From a strictly utilitarian viewpoint I can certainly see creating the genophage being ethical. When faced with imminent attack by a superior military force bent on your destruction it is acceptable to defend yourself with whatever force is necessary to stop the attack. To my mind it is acceptable to go further than that though; if all you do is stop the immediate attack you may well face another attack whenever it suits the enemy. Just like Ender did in Ender's Game I think it is morally acceptable to inflict additional punishment on an aggressor sufficient to deter future attack but that the additional punishment should stop short of revenge. Attacking for vengeance is not morally acceptable but attacking to prevent future conflicts is. In this case the genophage does the minimum possible damage that could be inflicted to prevent a devastating future conflict without destroying the krogan entirely; the best possible solution from a dismal set of choices.
The debate in ME2 ends up being framed very similarly to the abortion debate in the real world. Is killing a sentient being different from causing a baby to be stillborn? I think it is, which should not be surprising as I am very much pro choice. In ME2 the choice is framed in terms of Paragon and Renegade points; it seems as though the attitude that the genophage is wrong is Paragon and thinking that the genophage is a necessary evil is Renegade. It is a little strange because I am going through the game wanting to choose the Paragon options mostly but I sure wanted to be a Renegade whenever these questions came up. I can't really wrap my mind around the idea that the genophage is wrong; is a galaxy wide war and the utter destruction of at least one race a preferable result? If the genophage is cured then either the krogan must be destroyed or all other races must be destroyed instead; no other option presents itself.
I wonder if the parallels to the abortion debate were noticed when the game was being built. I certainly couldn't avoid seeing it as I went through Mordin Solus' quest mission in particula; I also wonder if the other players of the ME games notice the same. It seems like the genophage is being presented as somewhat morally ambiguous since I have options to either stop it or sustain it. I would be curious to know what the game developer's beliefs were on the abortion issue; it might give me some insight into how they develop games.