Many infertile couples turn to in vitro fertilization to try to have a baby. In this technique, sperm and ova are collected and used to create eight-cell embryos for implantation into a woman’s uterus. At the eight-cell stage, one of the fetal cells can be removed without causing harm to the developing fetus. Once removed, the cell can be genetically tested. Some couples may know that a particular genetic disease runs in their family. They might wish to avoid implanting any embryos with the disease-causing genes. Do you think this is an acceptable use of genetic testing? What if a couple wanted to use genetic testing to select embryos for traits unrelated to disease, such as freckles? Do you think that couples undergoing in vitro fertilization should be allowed to perform whatever genetic tests they wish? Or do you think that there should be limits on what tests can be performed? How do you draw the line between genetic tests that are acceptable and those that are not?
Pre-implantation genetic testing of embryos, through in vitro fertilization (IVF) techniqie, is a type of new process that allows testing and screening of embryos for genetic abnormalities prior to the embryo being transferred to the uterus (implantation). Pregnancy through in vitro fertilization using pre-implantation genetic testing provides the opportunity for the selection of genetically normal embryos that can enhance the possibility of a successful pregnancy, reduce the danger of a miscarriage, decrease the risk of passing definite genetic diseases to progeny and also provides gender selection for family balancing.
Extending the use of preimplantation genetic diagnosis to screen embryos for non‐clinical traits such as gender, height and intelligence, raises serious moral, legal, and social issues (Dahl, 2003). I think that these techniques should used only to detect the genetic disorders, not for addition or deletion of traits unrelated to disease, such as freckles, widow peak etc. Unfortunately, there are no rules and regulations that limit the method’s use. I think that government should ban the use of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis for addition or deletion of desired traits. Couples undergoing in vitro fertilization should not be allowed to perform whatever genetic tests they wish.
Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis should be allowed only to detect the genetic disorders such as Down syndrome, hemophilia etc. Use of this technique must be limited only for detection of autosomal and sex-linked diseases, not for adding/deleting fashionable traits.
Dahl, E. (2003) Should parents be allowed to use preimplantation genetic diagnosis to choose the sexual orientation of their children? Human Reproduction, 18(7):1368-1369.