PGD stands for pre-implantation genetic diagnosis on which Alison has written a most useful question and answer paper for those wishing to know more.
Alison, who has spina bifida, tells me:
"The title of the symposium, organized by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE), speaks volumes about ESHRE's attitude to killing what they regard as 'imperfect' human beings. There seems to be no consideration at all of the case against, or the effect upon a new and rapidly developing human embryo of having cells removed for PGD examination."Alison explains:
"PGD is a way of examining in the laboratory human embryos produced by in vitro fertilisation (IVF) technology (i.e. in a test-tube).Alison concludes:
"If a genetic disabling condition is detected, the embryo is thrown away. If not, the embryo is implanted in the woman, and allowed to grow and develop and eventually to be born. Pre-implantation diagnosis means that the embryo is examined before implantation in a woman's womb. PGD has also been used to identify an embryo that can serve as a tissue match for a sick child - and in some IVF programmes in other countries, PGD has been used to select the sex of an embryo for the purposes of family balancing ...
"The philosophy behind the day is I think summed up by the title of one of the sessions: "PND or PGD - which one to choose?" by Joe Leigh Simpson. (PND stands for pre-natal diagnosis). This presupposes that couples have only two options if they have chance of having a genetically/chromosomally disabled child (ie PND or PGD) and both those options are destructive if the child is found to be disabled.
"It is clear from ESHRE statements and policy documents that it strongly supports PGD and PND testing. The 'patient' always refers to the woman seeking embryo screening rather than to the embryo, and no consideration is given to the welfare of the embryos, other than those found to be 'unaffected' for whom they recommend freezing.
"There is nothing at all to celebrate in 20 years of human embryo testing which is designed primarily to eliminate disabled individuals. Although it's often claimed that IVF + PGD is "preferable" to PND + abortion, in fact both are pure eugenics, and there is nothing ethical or preferable about killing a human being at a younger age."
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