Experts widen debate on embryo screening risks
Sep 14, 2005 - 2:05:38 AM

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."

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