Pre-Pregnancy DNA Tests For Genetic Conditions
Tests for genetic conditions that can be passed on to future children should be more widely available before pregnancy.
A Human Genetics Commission report states that here are "no specific social, ethical or legal principles" against preconception screening and that testing should be available for people who would like it. Where people know that they have a family risk of a genetic illness such as sickle cell disease or cystic fibrosis, preconception testing already exists. The UK National Screening Committee will now debate whether everyone should have the same option.
Dr Frances Flinter, a consultant clinical geneticist at Guys and St Thomas' Hospital said: "People should be told about the availability of testing and the sort of information that can generate, but not specifically encouraged to have the tests, because it's important that people make the decision themselves as to whether they want to get access to that sort of information."
The director of the campaign group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, Josephine Quintavalle believes that having the option to screen out life-limiting conditions is "simply a modern version of eugenics".
A spokesperson 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."