Genetic Screening:

Genetic Screening:

  • Genetic screening is used to:
  • Identify carriers: heterozygotes with normal phenotypes. This can be followed up with counselling to help potential parents make a decision.
  • Embryo testing: a sample of cells from a developing foetus can be analysed. The sample is obtained either by amniocentesis (withdrawing amniotic fluid around 15-17 weeks of pregnancy) or by chorionic villus sampling (cells removed from the placenta at 8-12 weeks).
  • Both techniques carry a risk of miscarriage.
  • Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis: used to test an embryo created by IVF.
  • Pros and Cons of genetic screening:


Advantages of genetic testing Disadvantages of genetic testing
§  Can opt for termination.

§  Can get counselling.

§  Can buy special medical equipment / care in preparation for birth.

§  Can opt not to have children (if parents are tested.)

§  Utilitarian argument.

§  Abortion is morally wrong.

§  Tests can be inaccurate.

§  Small chance of test resulting in miscarriage.

§  Unnatural procedure.

§  Embryos have a right to life.

§  Embryos cannot give informed consent.