Ethical research on PGD

When speaking about the ethics of PGD, people tend to think of all kinds of exciting scenarios for the future of human reproduction. Some speak of a ‘slippery slope’ towards the ‘designer child’; others are less concerned about such developments. Those are interesting debates, but currently not realistic. Whereas in daily PGD-practice there are plenty ethical issues that are challenging enough, at least for the present.

In the ethics part of the Maastricht research project 'Long term safety, quality and ethics of PGD' (financed by ZonMw: the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development), two of these more ‘close to home’ questions have been addressed.

  1. What are morally acceptable criteria for determining PGD-indications?
  2. How to deal with situations in which the applicants are willing to accept larger reproductive risks than professionals regard as acceptable in view of the welfare of the future child?

To find out how professionals in PGD-practice think about these issues, two focus group meetings were conducted. One was held with professionals working in Dutch PGD centers (2013) and one with PGD-professionals from different European countries (2014). The results of this study have been published in The Journal of Healthcare, Medicine & Philosophy. The paper can be downloaded from the Springer website.


Wybo Dondorp, PhD
Maastricht University, department Health, Ethics & Society