I spoke about this and other ethical considerations at the Maternal and Child Health Symposium “Great Expectations” at USF College of Public Health along with Dr. Shayne Plosker, Reproductive Endocrinologist with USF IVF.
As a mental health counselor specializing in infertility issues, I’m often called upon to help individuals and couples work through complex and thorny ethical issues.
One of the most difficult is when to test embryos with a procedure called PGD – Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis. Also known as embryo screening.
Its initial purpose was clear:
- Screening embryos for genetic disease prior to being implanted during IVF.
- For couples who are carriers of debilitating conditions, this allows them to choose embryos which are free of the defect, making it likely their child will be born free of the disease. But how about some of the other uses recently discovered for PGD?
- Embryo screening so that couples can choose the sex of their baby. Do they freeze or discard the ones that aren’t the “right” sex?
Embryo screening to create a “savior sibling.” Choosing the embryo which carries the closest genetic match to an already-existing child who needs blood or bone marrow from a sibling to treat or cure a fatal illness.
Do you feel the first reason for testing embryos (i.e., to screen out certain genetic diseases) is okay? But you’re not so sure how you feel about the ethics of the other two?
Tell me what you think, and I’ll share with you in a future blog, what the participants at the Great Expectations Symposium at USF think!