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Sunday, September 17, 2006

More Eugenics Coverage

I posted here about the growing trend of eugenics through the technology of pre-implantation diagnosis. Slate has an article up on the practice, and they reiterate some of my own thoughts as to how the procedure has quickly become a slippery slope. The piece enumerates some of the diseases that prospective parents have been using PGD to prevent, as well as "predisposition syndromes", which are somewhat indicative of an increased risk to the embryo of getting a disease later in life - but far from any sort of guarantee that a child will be affected. The fact that less and less serious diseases - such as arthritis, where the gene in question only indicates a 20% chance of aquiring the disease - are already being screened for is also noted. But of course, why should that be shocking when the article point out that most parents utilizing PGD do so for the detection of far less serious traits than possible predisposition to disease:
Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg, an American IVF entrepreneur, says his clinics have done PGD for about 2,000 couples, and "85 to 90 percent of those couples have done it simply for gender selection." Two years ago, when GPPC asked Americans whether they approved of PGD for sex selection, 40 percent said yes.

I'm not even saying that I judge the parents who are actually choosing to perform the testing when they are already going through invasive procedures just to get pregnant. It's just that something about the thought of prospective parents going down a laundry list of tests for syndromes, predispositions, and attributes that they would like their children to avoid/aquire just seems a little too close to parents trying to mail-order their own little superbaby.

Slate agrees that the practice opens up a can of worms:
If PGD were evil, it would be easy to head off such abuses by banning it. But it's not. PGD prevents hellish diseases. In those cases, you have to say yes. And once you start saying yes, it's hard to say no. That's why they call it a slippery slope.


Blogger Sarah said...

Now that I'm, IY''H, expecting our first child, I can't even fathom how someone would even say 'yes' to taking some of the screenings involved. We told our midwife early on that we wanted no screening unless it was for a problem that could be fixed/treated. With this refusal has come a realization that we are accepting to love our baby whether or not he/she is physically perfect. I think this is what parenting is all about.

5:41 PM  

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