Choosing embryos: ethical complexity and relational autonomy in staff accounts of PGD

Ehrich, Kathryn, Williams, Clare, Farsides, Bobbie, Sandall, Jane and Scott, Rosamund (2007) Choosing embryos: ethical complexity and relational autonomy in staff accounts of PGD. Sociology of Health and Illness, 29 (7). pp. 1091-1106. ISSN 0141-9889

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The technique of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is commonly explained as a way of checking the genes of embryos produced by IVF for serious genetic diseases. However, complex accounts of this technique emerged during ethics discussion groups held for PGD staff. These form part of a study exploring the social processes, meanings and institutions that frame and produce ‘ethical problems’ for practitioners, scientists and others working in the specialty of PGD in the UK. Two ‘grey areas’ raised by staff are discussed in terms of how far staff are, or in the future may be, able to support autonomous choices of women/couples: accepting ‘carrier’ embryos within the goal of creating a ‘healthy’ child; and sex selection of embryos for social reasons. These grey areas challenged the staff's resolve to offer individual informed choice, in the face of their awareness of possible collective social effects that might ensue from individual choices. We therefore argue that these new forms of choice pose a challenge to conventional models of individual autonomy used in UK genetic and reproductive counselling, and that ‘relational autonomy’ may be a more suitable ethical model to describe the ethical principles being drawn on by staff working in this area.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Brighton and Sussex Medical School
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General) > R723 Medical philosophy. Medical ethics
Depositing User: Ellen Thomas
Date Deposited: 03 Mar 2017 10:22
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2017 10:22
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