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Last Updated: Nov 18, 2006 - 1:55:25 PM

Ethics Channel
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Special Topics : Ethics

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Experts widen debate on embryo screening risks
Sep 14, 2005 - 2:06:00 AM, Reviewed by: Dr.

"Beyond the divide between pro-life opposition to embryo screening and pro-choice support, exists a wealth of lesser-heard but vitally important perspectives. Crucially, many people identify possible benefits such as cures for disease and possible risks including designer babies."

 
The public debate on embryo screening is in danger of becoming over-simplified and polarised, suggests research conducted by Dr Paula Boddington and Dr Alexandra Plows at Cardiff University.

Following the announcement by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) that it would seek public opinion on the appropriateness of using fertility treatment to screen for serious genetic disorders, debate has centred on the two extremes of the issue — pro-life and pro-choice arguments.

However, Dr Plows and Dr Boddington of the Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics, argue that many issues relating to this sensitive issue have failed to be thoroughly addressed.

Dr Plows said: "Beyond the divide between pro-life opposition to embryo screening and pro-choice support, exists a wealth of lesser-heard but vitally important perspectives. Crucially, many people identify possible benefits such as cures for disease and possible risks including designer babies."

Dr Boddington, who has conducted research into the communication of genetic information within families said: "The international dimension of this debate is disturbingly absent; sex selection for social purposes is already banned by a European convention, and any go-ahead in the UK may undermine attempts to curb the situation in India, where there are already millions of ‘missing’ girls as a result of sex selection."
 

- Cardiff University
 

www.cardiff.ac.uk

 
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1. Dr Boddington is Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Medical Genetics, working on projects looking at the communication of genetic information within families, and at genetic and other explanations for common diseases and how these affect health care policy. She previously lectured in philosophy at the University of Bristol and the Australian National University, and was formerly chair of the Australian Commonwealth Department of Health’s Departmental Ethics Committee.

2. Dr Plows is a social movement theorist specialising in ‘radical’ and ‘unconventional’ civil society engagement.

3.For more information on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority please visit http://hfea.gov.uk

4. Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities. Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, the University today combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research with its proud heritage of service and achievement. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. From its outstanding central location amidst the parks, Portland-stone buildings and tree-lined avenues that form the city’s elegant civic centre, the University’s students and staff are drawn from throughout the world, attracted by its international reputation and commitment to innovation and excellence in all areas of activity. Cardiff is a member of the Russell Group of Britain’s leading research universities. Having gained national and international standing, Cardiff University’s vision is to be a world-class university and to achieve the associated benefits for its students, staff and all other stakeholders.

Visit the University website at: www.cardiff.ac.uk


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