Gene tests for IVF embryos legalised

Couples using in vitro fertilisation (IVF) can have embryos screened to ensure their child will not develop any serious hereditary disease or disability under a milestone law passed Thursday by Germany’s parliament.

Within limits, couples will be allowed to have embryos meant for IVF implantation tested. Only healthy embryos would be implanted, while embryos carrying genes that cause disease or disability would be discarded.

After a lengthy and at times emotional debate, the Bundestag voted in favour of the law, which will set strict limits on the technique. Only couples who themselves carry genes that cause or predispose to serious illnesses will be allowed to use the practice and each case will be vetted by an ethics panel to prevent a first step towards so-called “designer babies.”

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