Towards a legalization of embryonic selection …

The bioethics issue of embryo selection are a newsmaker that hits the headlines. A lot of people come out against this legalization without taking on board the positives. Legalize embryo selection? No, it’s a bad thing! What would be the reasons for this pessimistic vision? Most would say that it is ethically incorrect. However, we may wonder what embryo selection really is and how it could be a medical solution or a risk for some couples.

Following a Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, which makes it able to detect the presence of eventual abnormalities in embryos, it is possible to differentiate between embryos with a genetic disease and those with healthy carriers. Thus, a selection can be made in order to take a healthy embryo and then implant it in the uterus.

This practice offers couples with hereditary diseases the possibility of having a child without a genetic disease. Furthermore, this method can be proposed to couples who cannot have children by natural means, the embryos with the most chance of developing would be selected. Doctors introduce it as a real solution for the future.

Nevertheless, in vitro fertilization must not become a therapeutic tool. The risk is that some parents will conceive a second child for the sole purpose of finding a compatible donor. This can have disastrous effects on the family and psychologically. 

For instance, recently, an English family wanted permission to make a pre-implantation diagnosis to save their other son, waiting for a compatible donor. This is an example of a situation that goes over the top ! The child conceived must come from a real desire to have a child and not from a different reason. 

Finally, one should not get away from the medical aspect by going towards superficial selections such as the selection of the color of the eyes or hair. It would be crossing the line of the value of our humanity…

Embryo selection is a real step forward in the history of science. Indeed, it allows the development of a healthy embryo despite constraints such as hereditary diseases, or even the inability to have children by natural means. Nonetheless, this approach is very costly and difficult, without forgetting the hesitation it brings about because of its novelty and the ethical issues it raises.

Leila Hajjarabi

Illustration : « File:Didactic model of a human embryonic development 01.jpg » by Museum of Veterinary Anatomy FMVZ USP / Wagner Souza e Silva is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

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