Genetics our reproductive futures
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Genetics – our reproductive futures?. Art Work by Gena Glover, former artist in residence , Genetics Unit Guy’s Hospital, London. The X and Y chromosomes magnified many times. “Celebrity clone dies of drug overdose”. Nature, 18 February, 2003. Determining the Sex of the Foetus.

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Art Work by Gena Glover, former artist in residence,

Genetics Unit Guy’s Hospital, London




Determining the sex of the foetus
Determining the Sex of the Foetus

  • Ultrasound scan at 20 weeks

  • Amniocentesis (risk of miscarriage)

  • Blood test – of mother’s blood, from 7 weeks (genetic testing)

    - under medical supervision

    - bought privately

    eg. pay £179, provide

    drop of mother’s blood

    from finger prick


Sex selection abroad
Sex Selection: Abroad

  • ‘Sex Selection: Getting the baby you want. It’s one thing to wish for a baby boy or girl, quite another to make it happen. Amanda Mitchison meets the couples heading abroad – where the sex selection business is booming’ (Guardian, 3 April 2010)

  • Sex selection is illegal in the UK except on serious medical grounds


Sex selection in the uk
Sex selection: in the UK

  • ‘Probe ordered into “preferred sex” abortions’ (Independent, 23 Feb 2012)

  • ‘Clinics “offer sex-selection abortions”’ (Nursing Times, 23 Feb 2012)

  • ‘Society needs to realise the horrific consequences of sex-selective abortions’ (Guardian, 24 Feb 2012)

  • ‘Greedy doctors, and why I despair for British Asian women who abort female foetuses’ (Daily Mail, 24 Feb 2012)


Pre natal diagnosis
Pre-natal Diagnosis

  • Helping to have a normal baby?

  • Or…

    • Generating anxiety?

    • ‘Slippery slope’ to abortion;

    • Where to draw the line?

    • Regulating gene capital? (female)

    • Commodifying children?

    • Eugenics?

    • Support Groups used to generate medical knowledge that enables genetic tests that may lead to extinction



Saviour siblings
Saviour Siblings

  • Jamie Whitaker (b. 2003) as a “saviour sibling” to his brother Charlie (who has Diamond Blackfan Anaemia)

  • Selection (using PGD) performed in US because illegal in the UK


Saviour siblings1
Saviour Siblings

  • ZainHashmi(suffers from Thalassaemia)

  • Raj and ShahanaHashmi given permission (2002) to use PGD to select embryos that are a match to Zain


Saviour siblings2
Saviour Siblings

  • Max Matthews (b. 2009)

    as a ‘saviour sibling’ to

    hissister Megan (who

    had Fanconi anaemia)

  • Stem cells harvested from

    umbilical cord at Max’s birth

  • July 2010 stem cells and bone marrow from Max transplanted to Megan

  • First full ‘saviour sibling’ transplant in UK



The realities of pgd
The realities of PGD

  • People do not use PGD casually:

    • Very high failure rates (like all IVF)

    • High rates of attrition

    • Expensive

  • PGD patients have usually lost a foetus or a child – their desire is for a healthy baby that will survive, rather than a “designer baby”.

  • PGD is a technology of selection, not design


The realities of pgd1
The realities of PGD

  • As with IVF – it is an arduous physical process for women

  • New reproductive possibilities

  • New risks and responsibilities



Conclusion
Conclusion

  • Health, illness, the body and a wide variety of traits and characteristics are increasingly conceptualised in genetic terms

  • Genetic testing in utero generates hopes and fears

  • Genetic testing of embryos is likely to continue to expand, creating new choices, possibilities, dilemmas and responsibilities for society and for women


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