Customizing Conception: A Survey of Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis and the Resulting Social, Ethical, and Legal Dilemmas

By: Jason Christopher Roberts

One in six American couples experience difficulties conceiving a child. With fertility rates at an all time low, the business of treating infertility is booming. However, due to the United States prohibition on government funding for embryonic research, the $4 billion industry of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) has been incompletely monitored and largely removed from oversight. Additionally, due to the fervent abortion debate, in vitro fertilization (IVF) was introduced in the United States without a research phase and procedures have been forced to evolve in the private sector. Thus, the checks and balances on medical innovation that are generally imposed by the federal government for consumer protection are lacking. Decisions about when to go from the laboratory to the clinic are often left solely to the discretion of private physicians. Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is just one of many such treatments offered by these clinics. This iBrief examines how, why, and to whom the reproductive procedure of PGD is offered. In addition, it evaluates the prospective effects to society that arise when PGD is used for sex selection and for nontherapeutic or enhancement purposes. Finally, it explores whether and how to regulate PGD in the United States by investigating approaches to policy making that have been adopted by the United Kingdom.

Cite: 2002 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 0012