FROM DUTY TO CARE: A NEW LOOK AT THE MORAL FRAMEWORKS USED TO GUIDE PREIMPLANTATION GENETIC DIAGNOSIS IN IRELAND

Open Access
Author:
Fritz, Marissa Ann
Area of Honors:
Bioethics
Degree:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Erin Heidt-Forsythe, Thesis Supervisor
  • Jonathan Marks , Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • Assisted Reproductive Technology
  • Bioethics
  • Ireland
  • Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis
Abstract:
The Catholic Church has held a special position as the moral authority in Ireland, influencing social views as well as policy and legislation. This is most pronounced in the Constitution of Ireland, where there is an ambiguous clause protecting the right to life of the unborn. Due to this clause, government officials have been reluctant to create policy for reproductive healthcare, and because of this lack of regulation, physicians have been hesitant to use reproductive technology. This has been problematic for the advancement of reproductive medicine, particularly for the technology known as Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis, or PGD. While other countries have used PGD for over twenty years to detect fatal and severe genetic diseases in embryos before they are implanted into the uterus, Ireland has just recently adopted this procedure. As a result, Ireland has not yet had to address the controversial uses for PGD, such as using it to select for deafness. In many other countries there has already been a dialogue as to whether using PGD to purposely select for deaf embryos is morally permissible when deaf parents want to have a child who will share the deaf culture. However, with the recent adoption of PGD, Ireland will likely have to create guidelines for the technology and decide if it should be used to select for deafness. In order to make recommendations for policy and guidelines to using PGD, this paper has three goals. First, this paper aims to examine the traditional moral framework that has prevented the use of PGD in Ireland and explain why a new moral framework might be needed. This paper will address whether a change in moral constructs may permit physicians to use PGD to select for deafness. Finally, this paper will aim to provide suggestions on how Ireland may address these contemporary moral values through policy and guidelines to expand the uses for PGD and the advance the field of reproductive medicine.