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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
  • 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