Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis: Rationale and Ethics, an Islamic Perspective
Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is a relatively new procedure meant to diagnose genetic or chromosomal defects in fertilized eggs produced by in vitro fertilization (IVF) so as to avoid implanting an affected embryo. It has also been used to diagnose mutations associated with several types of cancer. One or two blastomeres are removed from the preembryo (8-16 cell morula stage). A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) procedure tests for genetic mutations, and fluoresence in situ hybridization (FISH) tests for chromosomal abnormalities.
The various clinical applications of PGD are presented and classified into acceptable, questionable, and unacceptable. The main advantage of PGD is that it will eliminate or significantly reduce the risk couples with genetic diseases face of having a baby with those diseases, thus avoiding some terminations of pregnancy.
However, PGD raises significant ethical issues, the most important of which is the sanctity of human life. While PGD does not result in loss of biopsied "healthy" preembryos, it involves discarding of "affected" human embryos. The arguments for and against this are discussed in detail. Further, the implications of PGD on a societal level and the danger of using it for eugenics are also discussed.
While the use of PGD for sex selection for medical reasons is acceptable, its use for nonmedical reasons is controversial. Islam encourages scientific developments as long as they benefit humankind and do not contradict basic Islamic rulings. Most Muslim scholars approve of PGD use as it involves a preembryo before it is implanted and allows for benefits to the couple involved, i.e. the prevention of having a baby with genetic diseases. They do not approve of its use for sex selection for nonmedical reasons.
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