Technology related to pregnancy has advanced rapidly since the latter half of the 20th century. Starting with in vitro fertilisation—or IVFs—technology advanced to the point in the 21st century where the sex of the embryo can be chosen. One method, known as PGD—or pre-implantation genetic diagnosis—is one of the most popular sex-determination techniques. Although it has many advantages, it has several disadvantages as well.
Cost is always an issue on matters concerning pregnancy. IVF tends to be expensive, while PGDs are an additional cost. Basic PGD tests will cost upwards of £1,950. These tests normally only include the sex determination, rather than the other features that PGD testing can include. Additional costs can be added for further chromosomal abnormality testing.
One of the advantageous aspects that PGD testing offers also has several drawbacks. PGD tests allow people to perform chromosomal testing, which provide the ability for those receiving an IVF to check for the correct number of chromosomes—ensuring a healthier embryo. The downside is that chromosomal testing is not always accurate and therefore cannot guarantee results. Since false testing is an issue, follow-up testing can be necessary to ensure a correct diagnosis.
Performing a PGD requires a cell biopsy to take place, which allows for the process of sex determination. If there are only a limited number of embryos, a PGD test can be risky since testing can result in the loss of a healthy embryo. Taking chances on a limited group of embryos can potentially result in a loss of all healthy embryos that would have otherwise had the potential to be implanted successfully.
PGD testing can raise several different moral questions. Other than the issue of disregarding healthy embryos in search of the one with the correct sex, there are issues regarding tissue compatibility. PGD testing allows tissue compatibility testing, which can be potentially used by people maliciously in an attempt to develop a child that has blood and tissue compatibility with another child that needs an organ or bone marrow transplant.