July
09
 

Germany legalises pre-implantation genetic diagnosis

The German parliament has legalised pre-implantation genetic diagnosis after a long debate over three competing proposals. The bill was passed on a conscience vote. PGD involves testing a cell from an early-stage embryo for genetic defects. If the embryo is unsuitable, it is destroyed.

Three bills were put forward. One proposed an absolute ban on PGD on the grounds that the possible rejection of embryos with faulty genetic make-up would endanger "societal acceptance of diversity" by increasing pressure on couples to have a normal child. One proposed a ban, with a small number of exceptional cases which would be defined as “non unlawful”.

The successful proposal allows PGD on a very restricted basis. Only couples who have a history of genetic disease or whose pregnancy would result in a stillbirth or miscarriage will be eligible. Counselling for them will be mandatory to avoid abuse; an ethics committee must agree; and the procedure will be available only at a few licensed centres.

PGD has been legal in the US and other European countries since the early 1990s. But in Germany the idea was fiercely controversial, for anything smacking of eugenics reminds voters of Nazi policies. Many Christian Democrats voted against the bill, as did many Greens. ~ Reuters, July 7



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