genetic screening

Length: 6 Pages 1535 Words

Genetic screening, also known as preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), is a newly emerging technology that has brought with it much controversy. PGD involves the in vitro fertilization of an embryo. “The embryos are allowed to develop to a 6 to 10 cell stage, at which point one of the embryonic cells is removed from each embryo and the cellular DNA is analyzed for chromosomal abnormalities or genetic mutations” (Botkin, 1998). In doing this, it can be determined which embryos will be most likely to implant and germinate successfully in the uterus. PGD is a complicated, technologically sophisticated process. It is a union of in vetro fertilization technology and molecular biology (Botkin, 1998). Though it has numerous positive attributes, there are equally as many negative ones. In fact, this issue is one that has recently become the subject of many heated debates. Proponents for the use of PGD assert that this test allows for parents with fertility problems to maximize their opportunity for conception and birth. Their adversaries argue that this process is morally questionable, and though it is seen as safe alternative to abortion couples can experience the same psychological effects as if they were dealing w Continue...

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Currently, CVS can only be performed in the ninth to eleventh week of pregnancy, and amniocentesis can be performed in fifteenth to eighteenth week (McClure and Tasca, 1998). For women over thirty-five the usage of PGD would not only be expensive but very risky. In a recent report, twelve couples utilized PGD to screen for cystic fibrosis. In the same manner that PGD detects single gene defects in embryo tests, it could do the same for polygenic diseases such as cancer (Yates, 1996). Before the usage of PGD the only other way to determine the existence of genetic diseases was by the use of prenatal diagnosis in the form of amniocentesis or chronic villus sampling (CVS). The couples produced 137 embryos, of which 26 were transferred to a woman's uterus and 5 births resulted (Botkin, 1998). Many people fear that in the future genetic screening will not only be used to prevent children being born with chromosomal abnormalities but also that it may be used for physical and psychological selection of embryos. The usage of PGD is bound to be surrounded by controversy. Most of those who have used it or heard about it are positive about its real or anticipated results. For most couples, two cycles of egg retrieval, testing, and implantation usually are required to establish a successful pregnancy (Botkin, 1998). PGD is still in its infancy, with time and research there will still be problems, but hopefully they can be decreased. Due to the positive results from genetic screening, it is becoming somewhat more popular and accepted. Couples who choose to use PGD would have to be willing to spend in excess of 43,000 dollars because as of now 85 percent of the costs of in vitro fertilization are not covered by insurance companies (Botkin, 1998). Journal of Law, Medicine, Ethics, 26, 17-28.


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