Genetically disabled seek right to become parents

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The Independent Online

Groups representing disabled people are lobbying for the right to choose to conceive children with the same genetic disabilities.

Groups representing disabled people are lobbying for the right to choose to conceive children with the same genetic disabilities.

The widescale introduction of a new genetic test for in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) embryos will allow prospective parents with inherited disabilities to select embryos that are also affected by the same disorder for implantation into the womb.

A working group of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is studying the ethical implications of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and has heard from several patient groups who have suggested the technique could be used by mildly disabled parents to ensure they have children like themselves.

Some deaf adults and people suffering from certain types of dwarfism have expressed their desire to make sure that their children grow up with the same experiences as their parents.

Professor Allan Templeton, chairman of the HFEA's working group, said there was a conflict of interest between the desires of parents and the welfare of the child. "Opinions are pretty sharply divided between those who feel it can never be justified and those who feel it is an issue of parental choice."

A consultation document on pre-implantation genetic diagnosis is expected to be discussed today by the HFEA, which has yet to make a judgement on whether mildly disabled people should be allowed to choose to implant affected embryos.

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