Genetic Screening To Expand in UK?

Tue May 9, 2006 9:22 PM EDT

The Guardian reports that the British government may allow women with a family history of breast cancer to use in-vitro fertilization (IVF) in order "to have children free of the disease." Currently, 10 British clinics are allowed to prescreen embryos, but only for genetic diseases with an early onset, such as cystic fibrosis.

Proponents of the measure argue that parents should be able to prevent their children from suffering later in life. "If families would wish to eliminate the threat of serious cancer from their family they should be at liberty to do so," said Simon Fishel, managing director of CARE, a group of fertility clinics. Angela McNab, chief executive of the UK's fertility watchdog, said: "what we are asking people is whether it is appropriate to use embryo screening technology to stop children being born with faulty genes when there is a chance they may never go on to suffer the cancer." The HFEA is slated to review the proposal tomorrow.