Switzerland on the point of authorising pre-implantation genetic diagnostics

Publié le : 11 March 2014

 The debate is underway today in Switzerland, in the State Council (upper chamber). Senators are starting to debate a Federal (government) Advisory Board project aimed at authorising pre-implantation genetic diagnostics (PGD). The latter has been banned in Switzerland since the law on medically assisted procreation (MAP) was passed on 1 January 2001. In a ricochet effect, MPs are also debating MAP.

In September 2004, the National Council Commission for Science, Education and Culture (lower chamber) filed a motion requesting “authorisation to proceed to PGD in a few rare but clearly defined cases, in order to achieve a final outcome once and for all, namely to offer women whose family is affected by a serious hereditary disease a less traumatic solution than abortion following prenatal diagnosis”. Following adoption by the National Council in 2005, Parliament has asked the Federal Council (government) to present “legislation to facilitate pre-implantation genetic diagnostics and to stipulate framework conditions”.

Having completed the preparatory phase, the Federal Council has forwarded all of its investigations to Parliament. The project aims to lift the ban on PGD and modify, to this end, Article 119 of the Federal Constitution “setting principles relating to medically assisted procreation and genetic engineering in the human sector”. According to the Federal Council, strict conditions govern the use of PGD: “only serious diseases occurring before the age of 50 and which cannot be treated effectively will be taken into account, or those conditions that present an intolerable emotional burden for parents”. A change to the constitution is required in order to change the number of “developed embryos” from 3 to 8 during MAP and to facilitate the freezing of embryos fertilised in vitro.

The State Council Commission for Science, Education and Culture wants to make two amendments to the Federal Council draft law: omission of a platform allowing embryos to be produced “on demand”, and authorised screening of aneuploids – a chromosome mutation responsible for genetic fertility disorders. During the debates, a minority is expected to propose the authorisation of PGD for the selection of “baby medicines”.

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