New official guidelines in the United Kingdom say that teenagers, around the age of 15 or 16, should be given a genetic test to see if they are carriers of incurable inherited conditions like Down’s syndrome or cystic fibrosis before they begin having sex or decide to settle down with a partner. The test could also be helpful for young couples wanting to have a child. If both parents test positive for the any of the conditions, their child has a 1 in 4 chance of developing it.
With this knowledge, parents will be able to make their own decisions of alternate child-bearing options. For example, they could adopt, use donated sperm, or use IFV, where they can disregard any “diseased embryos” through lab conception and testing.
Even though tests are not so easy to come across in the UK, many are in support of this. However, embryo rights groups like Comment on Reproductive Ethics say these tests could lead to more abortions because of their eugenic implications. For example, Josephine Quintavalle of Comment on Reproductive Ethics said, “The public always reads these reports in terms of wonderful new cures and that is very worrying. Killing the carrier of a genetic disease does not eradicate or cure the disease. It is simply a modern version of eugenics”.
A spokesman for the Department of Health said: 'Genetic screening can be a powerful diagnostic tool in assessing an individual's risk of conditions such as cystic fibrosis. 'But there are a number of considerations that are broader than the remit of this report which influence whether specific screening programmes should be established. 'The UK National Screening Committee will now consider the findings.'