chapter  2
34 Pages

Selective reproduction: ethics and the law

Adam Nash’s birth is not the only case in which ethical concerns have been raised about selective reproduction. Embryo screening using PGD has been available for over 20 years and has sparked debate about how much choice prospective parents should exercise about the genetic characteristics of the children they conceive. The process of PGD involves an embryo biopsy to determine the genetic composition of embryos created through in vitro fertilisation (IVF) in order to select a suitable embryo for implantation. In the past, PGD has most commonly been used to screen out heritable genetic disorders that would lead to serious disease, disability or increased risk of miscarriage. In these cases, ethical concerns about the procedure are considered by many to be outweighed by the therapeutic benefits. Regulation in the UK and Australia allows prospective parents to use PGD to detect serious genetic conditions and improve ART outcomes.1 What constitutes a serious genetic condition or disability is, however, a contentious issue.2 The extent to which PGD might be used in relation to susceptibility or late-onset conditions,3 for example, has led to concerns about where the line should be drawn in selective reproduction.4