Germany OKs Genetic Embryo Tests

Scientists can test embryos in first days of development
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 8, 2011 11:24 AM CDT
German Chancellor Angela Merkel casts her vote for a law to permit the procedure known as preimplantation genetic diagnosis under strict conditions in Berlin Thursday July 7, 2011.   (Michael Gottschalk)
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(Newser) – After an emotional debate, German lawmakers voted yesterday to allow a procedure that looks for genetic disorders in embryos before they are implanted in the womb. Lawmakers voted to permit the procedure known as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis—a procedure sometimes used after in-vitro fertilization, when parents whose families have a history of genetic disorders want to avoid having a child with a lethal or severely debilitating birth defect.

Elsewhere in Europe and in the US, the test is often used in infertile couples who have failed in previous attempts to have children while using IVF in hopes that the test will boost their chances of implanting the best embryo. But debates on procedures that involve genetic selection tend to be tinged in Germany by memories of the country's Nazi past, though lawmakers didn't refer to that explicitly. Under the law approved yesterday, an ethics commission will have to decide on a case-by-case basis whether couples can use the procedure. An expert would have to certify that a couple's child faced a high risk of a serious genetic disorder or that a miscarriage or stillbirth was likely.

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