Predicting Probability: Regulating the Future of Preimplantation Genetic Screening

78 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2008 Last revised: 17 Feb 2014

See all articles by Jaime S. King

Jaime S. King

Faculty of Law, The University of Auckland

Date Written: 2008


Government intervention into the reproductive decisions of individuals has been a significant source of tension and strife within American legal jurisprudence for the last century. This tension has caused many lawmakers in the United States to eschew attempts to regulate assisted reproductive technology, including preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). PGD enables prospective parents to select embryos created through in vitro fertilization based on the presence of a genetic or chromosomal abnormality. Use of PGD has been limited due to technological constraints, expense, and moderate success rates.

Recent advances in genetic testing technology will remove many of these obstacles, substantially increasing both the benefits available through PGD and its patient population. These advances will enable parents to do more than diagnose serious disorders in their potential offspring; they will be able to screen their embryos for hundreds of genetic and chromosomal characteristics at one time - preimplantation genetic screening (PGS).

While these advances in reproductive genetic testing promise significant benefits, they also present risks to both individuals and society. Government intervention is warranted to ensure the quality and safety of assisted reproduction, including PGS, and to monitor its use for risks to individuals or society. The government should only intervene when the free exercise of individual reproductive autonomy threatens harm to others. This article proposes the creation of a federal regulatory body to license and monitor the practice of assisted reproduction and suggests a balancing framework for addressing conflicting interests in the use of PGS to screen for various genetic characteristics.

Keywords: reproduction, genetics, preimplantation genetic diagnosis, regulation

Suggested Citation

King, Jaime S., Predicting Probability: Regulating the Future of Preimplantation Genetic Screening (2008). Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law, and Ethics, Vol. 8, No. 2, pp. 283-358, 2008, Available at SSRN:

Jaime S. King (Contact Author)

Faculty of Law, The University of Auckland ( email )

Private Bag 92019
Auckland Mail Centre
Auckland, 1142
New Zealand

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