With the development and perfection of genetic testing, every chromosome in the human body can be tested for faults and defects. This testing can and does take place while the fetus is in-utero, so what is stopping couples from aborting a fetus because chromosomal testing reveals an imperfection? Absolutely nothing, according to concerned doctors.

When the chromosomal test for Down’s Syndrome was developed by Dr. Santiago Munne, the world took notice because couples had the ability to choose whether to keep the fetus or abort the pregnancy if the test was positive. The Down’s Syndrome test was just the beginning. Today, there are tests available for a multitude of chromosome abnormalities and Dr. Munne is contemplating opening embryo screening clinics in Canada.

Canada covers up to three in-vitro fertilizations, but most fertilizations allow only one embryo to be transferred. In the United States, multiple embryos are often transferred to increase the chance of conception. Supporters of chromosome testing believe embryos should be fully tested before being implanted, especially in Canada, because only the best embryos should be used, but the question of morality remains. If embryos are tested before being implanted, are we not genetically influencing reproduction?

According to Munne, up to 93-percent of embryos created from eggs harvested from women over the age of 35 have chromosomal abnormalities. These abnormalities can inhibit implantation and pregnancy. Furthermore, testing the embryos before they are implanted reduces the risk of abortion after pregnancy due to chromosome testing that takes place after pregnancy.

While there are doctors that fall on both sides of the debate, Munne stands firm in his support. Testing costs about $2,500 and can be finished in a couple of hours. The more viable the embryo, the less the chance of miscarriage or abnormality at birth, but the debate still remains a moral one for some doctors.

While clinical testing is clearly needed before designer babies are a reality, there is little doubt that chromosome testing could lead to severe morale questions in the very near future.

Source: Sharon Kirkey. The Gazette. 19 September, 2011.