Ethical considerations of applications of preimplantation genetic diagnosis in the United States

Karen E. Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) was developed to offer diagnosis of genetic disorders prior to initiation of a pregnancy, whereas previously such disorders would be diagnosed at amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling after a pregnancy had already been undertaken. Such application of this technology is not controversial. But PGD has been used to not only diagnose genetic disorders but also to select for certain other characteristics, and this use of the technique is much more controversial. A case is presented in which PGD was used not only to select against a genetic disorder, but to select for a certain HLA type which matched an affected sibling. The new child's cord blood was transplanted into his affected sister, who subsequently was found to be free of disease. The ethics of "having a child to save a child" are explored, and possible other uses of PGD that lead to eugenic outcomes are considered. The lack of regulation of this technology in the US is contrasted with existing legislation in other countries, and the need for national and international consensus regarding appropriate uses of PGD is emphasized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)489-494
Number of pages6
JournalMedicine and Law
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2003


  • Access to care
  • Assisted reproductive technology
  • Bioethics
  • Medical ethics
  • Preimplantation genetic diagnosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Law


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