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Screening for Children: Choice and Chance in the “Wild West” of Reproductive Medicine
By Benjamin B. Williams

While the struggle over abortion rights in the United States continues vociferously,  as recently highlighted by the passage of nationalized health care,  a new type of reproductive medical procedure has arrived, unnoticed and unregulated.  Preimplantation genetic screening (“PGS”)  and in vitro fertilization (“IVF”)  provide parents who can afford them  with a new, powerful, and potentially dangerous choice: rather than taking the chance of conceiving traditionally, parents can now create a limitless number of candidate embryos in a laboratory, analyze the characteristics of each, and select which embryo will become their future child.  As PGS is a reproductive medical procedure, some have argued that regulations on the technology would unconstitutionally infringe on parents’ reproductive liberty and autonomy, rights that are sacrosanct in the United States.   However, PGS differs materially from other reproductive medical procedures both in its procedures—because it takes place outside of the human body—and its potential for abuse—because it deals with more than mere creation of life, as it allows for the selection and creation of life with expected specific attributes.

The United States should take immediate action to ensure a regulatory framework is in place to address this advancing technology.  Although technological limitations prevent some of the most controversial uses of this technology, serious ethical questions surround what is currently possible and will soon be possible.  Part I of this Note provides a basic overview of the technology at issue.  Part II examines the increasing demand for the service.  Part III discusses the necessity of some form of regulation, and Part IV examines the worldwide array of PGS regulation.  Part V proposes a unique combination of legislation, regulation, and state engagement to suit the needs and interests of the United States.  Finally, Part VI concludes that this unique combination is the best course of action for the United States to take given time constrains and other concerns.

About This Content
Keywords: Williams, Health, Abortion, PGS, Reproduction, In Vitro Fertilization
Content Type: Note
Media Type: Print
Author: Benjamin B. Williams
Publish Date: June 2011
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