Embryo genetic testing a gateway to eugenics, pro-life doctors say

The pro-life lobby group warns that PGD procedures will lead to eugenics and devalue human life

Pro-life lobby group Doctors for Life has warned against the introduction of embryonic pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) on the argument that it will lead to eugenics and devalue human life.

According to the group, embryonic PGD "will lead to a eugenic process that only eliminates illness by eliminating the ill. It implies a hierarchy of value, selecting the healthy who are given a chance at life and discarding the sick, condemning them to be destroyed".

"We must bear in mind that certain genetic conditions, such as cystic fibrosis, had an abysmal prognosis up until a few years ago; they have now become far more treatable with life expectancy approaching 50 years."

PGD is a test used to screen embryos for any genetic defects before they are implanted. It entered the public discourse when Health Minister Chris Fearne announced that he will move amendments to Malta's IVF law to introduce PGD procedures.

The PGD test remained elusive in Malta’s IVF regime, after embryo freezing was first banned by the Nationalist government in 2012, and then reintroduced by the Labour government in 2013. But PGD testing was never introduced in the two rounds of legislation for in vitro fertilisation in a bid to placate critics of the law.

If introduced, PGD testing will allow prospective couples carrying hereditary diseases to use IVF to produce embryos that do not have genes that carry the disease.

"Doctors For Life wholeheartedly agrees with any ethical measures meant to decrease transmission of genetic illness to children," it said.  "We invite all MPs in the House of Representatives to reflect on these ethical implications and to ask themselves if they want to be personally responsible for the destruction of human embryos that will follow the introduction of embryonic PGD."