A Closer Look at Ethical Issues and Moral Dilemmas

While PGD/PGS enables couples to select their baby’s gender, PGD/PGS draws more scrutiny because embryos must be created in the process. This adds a layer of ethical and moral consideration. PGD/PGS requires IVF, where fertilization occurs in a laboratory. Generally several embryos are created but only a few (or one) are transferred to the woman, leaving extra embryos. The would-be parents must decide what to do with the extra embryos: 1) freeze them for later use, 2) donate them to infertile couples, 3) donate them to medical research, or 4) freeze them and decide later or discard them.

Some religious groups may object to IVF claiming it is creating life, “playing God” or interfering with nature. Additionally, when embryos are discarded or donated to science, some see this as killing an unborn being.  This argument melts down to whether one considers a 3- to 5-day-old embryo (zygote) as a living being.  (It has no heartbeat, and it is about 60 to 120 cells.)

A major ethical and ecological concern with gender selection is that one gender is favored over another. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Committee on Ethics and the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) supports the practice of PGD only to help prevent serious sex-linked genetic diseases but not for sex selection for personal and family balancing reasons, because they “may ultimately support sexist practices.”

Some question this logic, including Dr. Daniel A. Potter. “ACOG purports to support a woman’s right to reproductive autonomy, including abortion for any reason…. To oppose family balancing because it ‘may’ support sexist practices is absurd. … The issue here is reproductive autonomy … a decision that should be made privately by the patient and her physician.”

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