Reproductive Genetic Technologies Should Be Used Only To Combat Disease, Infertility

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Genetic technologies "aimed at combating disease or infertility" shouldbe allowed, but technologies used to "go beyond the curative to enhancethe germ line DNA of our offspring" should be banned, New York Times columnistNicholas Kristof writes in an opinion piece. Some of the "mostmonumental decisions we will face in the coming years will involvewhere we draw the line" on the legality of certain genetic procedures,and one of the "crucial evolving technologies" is preimplantationgenetic diagnosis, Kristof writes (Kristof, New York Times, 7/23).

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PGDinvolves removing a single cell from a three-day-old embryo to test forpotential birth defects and then implanting the embryos most likely toresult in a healthy infant. Only a few thousand PGD procedures areperformed annually, although some researchers say the procedure hasbeen increasing by as much as 30% per year (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 7/5).

Accordingto Kristof, PGD in certain circumstances and compensation for women whodonate eggs for fertility treatments should be allowed. In addition,the practice of U.S. couples paying women in countries such as Indiais "troubl[ing]," but it also "passes muster" because it allowssurrogates to earn "substantial sums at less risk than with their otheroptions" and helps infertile U.S. couples who might not otherwise beable to afford an infant, Kristof writes.

"What should crossthe line into illegality is fiddling with the heritable DNA of humansto make them smarter, faster or more pious -- or more deaf," Kristofwrites, concluding, "That is playing God, not just with a particularembryo, but with our species, and we should ban it" (New York Times, 7/23).
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Reprinted with permission fromkaisernetwork.org.You can view the entire KaiserDaily Women's Health Policy Report, search thearchives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report is published forkaisernetwork.org,a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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