The Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology on Saturday proposed expanding the scope of cases where the use of pre-implantation diagnosis is permissible.

At the first meeting of its ethics committee to include sociologists, patient support groups, and pediatrics and genetics doctors, the society proposed that pre-implantation diagnosis be applied to patients with hereditary diseases that greatly affect their daily lives, including those for which no effective remedy is available or that require highly advanced therapy.

The organization also proposed removing the age limit for the diagnosis, which is aimed at examining fertilized eggs for genes related to serious inheritable diseases.

The society has so far tolerated the use of pre-implantation diagnosis only for people who have genes relate to severe hereditary diseases, such as those that could cause patients to die before they grow up or require artificial ventilators.

At the meeting, the proposal was supported by doctors while sociologists and others expressed caution. One of the cautious members said, “We should consider changing the current society in which it is difficult to give birth to babies with diseases,” and another stated, “Pre-implantation diagnosis is a technology leading to the selection of life.”

The obstetrics and gynecology society started considering the possibility of expanding the application of pre-implantation diagnosis after a woman with retinoblastoma, a type of eye cancer, in Osaka Prefecture, filed for the use of the technique in 2018.

The society plans to reach a conclusion on the issue after holding some more meetings of the ethics committee by April.

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