Skip main navigation

£199.99 £139.99 for one year of Unlimited learning. Offer ends on 28 February 2023 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply

Find out more

Overview of legal issues

Professor Emily Jackson expands on the regulatory aspects of this field, and how PGD and NIPT have distinct implications from a legal standpoint.
PGD in the UK is strictly regulated. It can only be carried out in a licenced clinic if the clinic has a licence to carry out PGD for the particular condition and it can only be done in order to avoid serious disease. So, in the UK it is not lawful to use PGD for reasons of gender selection unless there is a serious sexing condition for which PGD is being used. So, very strictly regulated here and you couldn’t do it to screen in desirable characteristics, even if that was genetically possible and you couldn’t do it just because you had a preference not to have a child of a particular sex. So here it is strictly regulated.
Obviously it is possible for people to go overseas, in particular to the United States or possibly Greece, for gender selection. And we don’t know how many people are doing that. One has to imagine that it is quite, a small number of people that actually care that much about the sex of their child that they are willing to spend £20,000 for example choosing their child. Most people just want to have a healthy baby and they don’t want to undergo IVF and PGD for that purpose. Non-invasive prenatal testing is obviously completely different from pre-implantation genetic diagnosis because what is regulated is not the test, but the circumstances under which a woman can have a termination pregnancy. So they are slightly different.
So in relation to PGD the circumstances in which you can test are strictly regulated whereas for abortion you can test for a whole range of things but there are limits upon access to abortion. To they are regulated in rather different ways. I think with non-invasive pre-natal testing, on the whole, it is a very positive thing for women to be able to undergo testing earlier in pregnancy, for it not to have a risk of miscarriage. But of course that leaves women wrestling with what to do with this information. And I don’t think there is any evidence that women are going to be using this in order to have terminations for what you might call trivial reasons.
I think, on the whole pregnant women just want to have a healthy baby.

Professor Emily Jackson briefly covers some of the legal issues involved in genetic testing in embryos and prenatally.

For your discussion: What do you think are the main legal issues involved?

This article is from the free online

Making Babies in the 21st Century

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education