Germany allows testing of embryos

Berlin - Germany finally cleared the path for the genetic testing of embryos recently, a procedure which has attracted criticism from religious leaders and disabled rights activists over fears of creating “designer babies.”

The procedure, known as preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), allows parents with serious hereditary diseases to test embryos for genetic defects before implantation into the womb.

The vast majority of us have a set of genes that will allow us to reach our late 80s and early 90s. Credit: Reuters

Germany originally approved a bill in July 2011 which would have allowed limited testing. But when the law came into force in December of that year, the legislative framework for carrying out the procedure was lacking.

Legislation put forward by Health Minister Daniel Bahr to rectify this was approved by the vote in the Bundesrat, or upper house of parliament.

“We've waited a long time for this, now it's finally there,” said parliamentarian Ulrike Flach, who put forward the law in 2011.

The tests, which are only available to parents with serious hereditary diseases, are aimed at helping prevent miscarriages or stillbirths.

The original debate in 2011 had stirred deep emotions in a country which systematically killed disabled people during the Nazi period. - Sapa-dpa