Thursday, November 10, 2005

What should we test for?

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is conducting a survey to see whether people think embryos should be tested for a wider range of conditions than they are currently.

At the moment, embryos obtained through IVF are tested for a small number of genes which give the child which has them an almost certain chance of developing certain currently incurable disorders, such as cystic fibrosis. The ideas under discussion would involve genes which give a predisposition to (not a certainly of developing) certain cancers, and/or diseases for which we do have cures.

Is it right to choose not to implant an embryo because it contains a gene that might (not will) cause it to develop a disease that might (not will) be incurable? On the other hand, if you're choosing one of a number generated by IVF anyway, doesn't it makes sense to give your child the best chance possible?

I've seen GATTACA. I know that a chance is not the same as a certainty. My biggest worry is, is it right to decide on matters of morality by public survey, as if it was some sort of popularity contest for ethical policy? On the other hand, is there any other way?

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