Comparing Germany and Israel regarding debates on policy-making at the beginning of life: PGD, NIPT and their paths of routinization

Ethik in der Medizin 34 (1):65-80 (2021)
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Abstract

The routinization of prenatal diagnosis is the source of bioethical and policy debates regarding choice, autonomy, access, and protection. To understand these debates in the context of cultural diversity and moral pluralism, we compare Israel and Germany, focusing on two recent repro-genetic “hot spots” of such policy-making at the beginning of life: pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and non-invasive prenatal genetic testing, two cutting-edge repro-genetic technologies that are regulated and viewed very differently in Germany and Israel, reflecting different medicolegal policies as well as public and bioethical considerations. First, we compare policy-making in the context of PGD for HLA typing, used to create sibling donors, approved in Israel under specific conditions while prohibited in Germany. Second, we compare policy-making in the context of NIPT, which came under fire in Germany, while in Israel there has been little public debate about it. Both countries justify their contrasting policies as reflecting a concern for the well-being and care of the embryo/child, thus highlighting different concepts of embryo/child protection, autonomy, family relations, and the impact of religion and history on the promotion/protection of life. We use the juxtaposition of PGD and NIPT to highlight some inconsistencies in policies concerning the protection of extra- and intra-corporeal embryos. We conclude by drawing on the comparison to show how national variations exist alongside co-evolution.

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