More Screening to Select Embryos?

Deputy Jean-Yves Le Déaut filed a new draft bill on November 16, 2016 aimed at extending indications for preimplantation diagnosis.

Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) consists in performing in-vitro genetic analysis on embryos, by withdrawing several individual cells in order to detect chromosomal abnormalities and if indicated, choose not to perform in utero embryo transfer, and discard the embryo.

Currently the law only authorizes using PGD in the following exceptional cases:

  • The couple has an increased risk of giving birth to a child with a serious genetic disease considered to be incurable at diagnosis. The screening can only be performed for cases when one of the parents or an immediate ascendant has a serious disabling disease, which was found belatedly and was life-threatening, in order to elucidate the anomaly or anomalies for the mentioned illness.
  • Both members of the couple must sign their written consent for performing the diagnosis.

The only objective for diagnosis is for screening that specific disease, as well as different manners to prevent or treat the disease.

This draft law would thus introduce a break with the previous legislation, extending it for the research of other diseases.

It would introduce the use of preimplantation diagnosis for «screening risks of severe disease during embryonic development” with the use of “molecular genetic testing” in order to avoid a medical interruption of pregnancy later on”.

However, PGD allows medically-assisted in-vitro fertilized embryos to be screened prior to transfer. For parliamentarians, the issue is not a question of principle, but one of time.

In their explanatory statement, the MP’s base this on the fact that “Today in society the desire to have children is manifested much later in life” therefore “we believe it is essential for us to authorize genetic testing of embryos before uterine transfer for cases of increased risk of embryonic abnormalities.”  

The authors of draft bill specify that “These arguments lean towards relaxing certain regulatory guidelines for sexual reproduction as requested by several doctors – reproduction biologists”, thus referring to an activist and deceptive article, headed by gynecologist René Frydman. This article formulates several specific demands on current regulations concerning medical aid for reproduction: developing oocyte donation in France, genetically analyzing embryos before being transferred to the uterus by expanding the opportunity for preimplantation diagnosis for all in-vitro fertilizations; allowing women to keep their oocytes without any restrictions; authorizing unrestricted sperm donation for single women whether single or homosexual…

The authors of the draft bill state that even if Article 47 of the 2011 Bioethics Law has to be reexamined by Parliament prior to the 2018 Law, according to the evaluation of its application in 2017 by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, of which Mr. LE Déhaut is currently president, and in keeping with the General Assembly “this bill may be discussed prior to the deadlines as long as the practice is already proposed to all pregnant women before the end of the first trimester.”

Alliance VITA’s viewpoint:

This practice contributes to additional pressure for eugenics. Screening all human embryos conceived by IVF insinuates that one has to have the right genetic passport before being allowed to live.


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