Essay on Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis

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Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis

In the United States, an estimated 2.3 million couples are considered infertile [Wekesser, 1996]. This creates a large need for infertility specialists and clinics specializing in fertility treatments. With the quickly advancing field of rep roductive services and the quest for creating better, healthier babies, a new service called Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) is being offered in conjunction with In vitro fertilization.

PGD is a procedure that combines In vitro fertilization and genetic screening. In vitro fertilization is a procedure that requires a large time commitment; the entire procedure lasts about four weeks. The woman receives daily injections for seven to twelve days to
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It can also be used to test for Tay-Sachs Disease, Fragile-X Mental Retardation, Cystic Fibrosis, Down Syndrome and Spinal Muscular Atrophy. In the past couples who wanted to have childr en, and were carriers of inherited diseases, worried about the possibility of their children inheriting the disease. Parents will no longer have this worry. In 1989, an English couple became the first to use PGD [Grady,1995]. It was used because they were at risk of passing along a form of severe mental retardation. Because it only affected sons, PGD was used to ensure that the couple had a daughter.

Public Policy Debates

Although PGD is a relatively new procedure, there are several ethical questions surrounding its use. One question is, "Should parents be allowed to choose characteristics for their children that are not related to disorders such as their baby’s eye color, personality, or even the sex of their baby?" [Wekesser,1996]. Until the genes responsible for inherited traits such as the previously mentioned are mapped, this is not an issue. If scientists do not know where the gene is located, they are unable to create a test determining the presence of the gene. However, because we do know how the sex of a child is determined, a specific gender can be screened for. Many believe that this should