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Selection Based on Genetic Diagnosis? The Medical, Ethical and Legal Aspects of Prefertilisation and Preimplantation Diagnosis - [German]


Duration:

Aug 1998 - Jan 2002

Funding body:

DFG Förderinitiative Bioethik

Contact:

Institut für Wissenschaft und Ethik (IWE)

Bonner Talweg 57

53113 Bonn

Germany

Phone: +49-(0)228-3364-19 20 Fax: +49-(0)228-3364-1950

E-Mail: iwe@iwe.uni-bonn.de
URL: http://www.iwe.uni-bonn.de

Head:

Bergdolt, Klaus (Prof. Dr. Dr.)

Honnefelder, Ludger (Prof. Dr. Dr.)

Schreiber, Hans-Ludwig (Prof. Dr. Dr.)

Member:

Diedrich, Klaus (Prof. Dr.)

Hepp, Herrmann (Prof. Dr.)

Honecker, Martin (Prof. Dr.)

Küpker, Wolfgang (Dr.)

Laufs, Adolf (Prof. Dr. Dr.)

Schwinger, Eberhard (Prof. Dr.)

Sipe, Ludwig (Prof. Dr.)

Zerres, Klaus (Prof. Dr.)

Schneider, Susanne

Woopen, Christiane (Dr.)

Short Description:

Since the early 1990s it has been technically possible to conduct genetic diagnosis within the framework of in vitro fertilisation. It can be carried out as a prefertilisation diagnosis by using the polar bodies of the fertilised oocytes or as preimplantation diagnosis by using an individual totipotent or pluripotent blastomere of the early embryo.

The project analyzes the medical aspects of the technical possibilities offered by this type of diagnosis, and deals with the advantages and disadvantages of prefertilisation diagnosis as compared to preimplantation diagnosis. Various fields of application are analyzed, and the acceptance of this type of diagnosis by different sections of the population is discussed.

The discussion of the ethical problems involved focuses on three aspects.

(1) In order to be able to carry out an ethical analysis the project begins by asking how, once diagnosis has been performed, the selection of egg cells or embryos can adequately be described in terms of theory of action. In this context, questions concerning the moral status of egg cell and embryo, the concept of illness as defined by human genetics, the decision that only a medical doctor may perform the procedure, and the ethical function of a framework of procedural rules are dealt with.

(2) The project also examines the characteristics of medical decisions involving selection in other contexts in order to assess whether it would be legitimate to transfer such decision procedures also to preimplantation diagnosis.

(3) Finally, taking basic human rights as a starting point, it is asked whether the right to life, the right to bodily integrity, and the right to self-determination are relevant to preimplantation diagnosis, how conflicts between rights may be dealt with, and whether a right to reproductive choice exists.

These three approaches to the ethical analysis draw upon the already extensive discussion that is taking place in the area of prenatal diagnostics, primarily because the main argument put forward by advocates of these methods is that prefertilisation or preimplantation diagnosis could help to avoid abortions.

Keywords

abortion – genetic testing / counseling – in vitro fertilisation – medical ethics – preimplantation diagnosis – prenatal diagnosis

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