LETTER : Death threat

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The Independent Online
Annabel Ferriman gives the wrong impression about preimplantation diagnosis for breast cancer (" 'Breast cancer' embryos may be culled", 25 August). Only women who know that they already have breast cancer - or any other serious genetic disorder - in their family have shown interest in preimplantation diagnosis. They may have seen female relatives suffer or die from the disease and may face the prospect of developing it themselves. Such women make the decision whether to opt for preimplantation diagnosis or not by balancing up two considerations: the desire for a child and the wish that it is free from a disease that has devastated their family.

This is a good treatment for women who know they are at risk of having a child with an inherited genetic disorder. Cries of eugenics from the anti-abortion lobby will only limit its availability for those who could benefit from it. As for the sickening suggestion that women should wait for breast cancer to develop then have a double-mastectomy: one wonders whether Peter Garrett would be so keen to condemn his own child to such an ordeal.

Juliet Tizzard

Progress Educational Trust

London W1

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