April 24, 2024

UK IVF doctors lobbying for PGD funding

Using stories of couples “forced” to abort
Couples are being "forced" to abort genetically defective children, claim
healthcare workers in the UK – apparently to pressure the government into
expanding funding for pre-natal genetic diagnosis.

Alison Lashwood, a genetics consultant, told the London Telegraph that
couples whose children are at risk of inheriting a genetic defect face difficult
options if they cannot pay the £7,000 for the test. They can conceive naturally
in the hope that their child will be unaffected. If prenatal testing during the
pregnancy is positive, they would then "have to have" an abortion, or even raise
a child with the disease.

Ms Lashwood said: "There are couples who have not been given funding. For
some they will not have children at all, others feel their only option to go
ahead with a pregnancy and they have had another affected child, or they have
had prenatal testing and have had a termination."

She told the media that one couple was refused funding even though they had
lost one child at birth to a severe chromosomal abnormality. Because they could
not access PGD, they had two other babies with exactly the same condition.

Josephine Quintavalle, of the lobby group CORE, told the BBC: "We should not
be in the business of making judgements about what is a life worth living and
what isn’t at any stage of the process."

Part of the problem lies in the National Health Service bureaucracy.
Professor Peter Braude, of Kings College, London, says that officials confuse
PGD with fertility treatment and refuse to fund couples who already have
children. In some cases the couple have a disabled child who will die early in
life and are still refused PGD funding.

PGD is still rare in the UK. In 2006 46 babies were born after being screened
with PGD compared with 12,589 babies born after IVF treatment. More lobbying
from fertility clinics could make it more popular. ~ London
Telegraph, Apr 22