A news article on screening of embryos came out last week and it was picked up under various titles by various news outlets.
From Australia and New Zealand
Why IVF parents are choosing girls over boys, which google news also listed under Parents call for embryo screening to cut risks.
And a different take
Here’s a quote from one of the stories:
Figures from one of Sydney’s top IVF clinics show about one in 20 parents seeking embryo screening are looking to have a female baby to reduce their risk of autism.
Australia does not allow for gender selection of embryos. One can’t tell the IVF team to pick male or female embryos. But one can ask for genetic screening.
University of Sydney senior lecturer in bioethics Chris Jordens said autism had a strong genetic basis, so it was within the guidelines.
And the trend towards genetic screening is strong and building in the US.
At a recent conference in Chicago, he saw a number of United States IVF providers offering parents without the conditions tests for between 180 and 600 common gene mutations, such as the BRCA ”breast cancer” genes.
Gender selection to reduce autism risk is about the most basic, the most crude, genetic screening one could imagine. But it’s real and it’s happening.
The concept of autism prevention through genetic screening, either in IVF or in selective abortions, has been a major ethical question with the push for genetics research in autism in the past decade.
The first step in guiding our societies towards an ethical approach to genetic testing is to present autism accurately. This is one reason why I and others speak out when groups such as Autism Speaks or some parent “advocates” present autism with phrases such as as “These families are not living” or “Life is lived…in despair”. Is life harder, more challenging for my kid? Absolutely. But what message are we sending to prospective parents when we tell them that their lives will be lived in despair or they will no longer be living if they have an autistic child? We are telling them to do whatever they can to avoid having an autistic child. We are telling them to pick and chose their embryos. We are telling them to selectively abort. We are telling the autistics of today that the perfect world (in the view of the majority) is one without them.
My kid and other autistics, children and adults, deserve life. They deserve the right to pursue happiness. Disabled does not equate to despair.
This is why, Autism Speaks, when you portray my kid as less, my life as not lived, I and others will speak out. Autism Speaks, it’s time you started listening.
By Matt Carey