South Africa does not regulate PGD explicitly by legislation or professional guidelines. However, the Medical Research Council of South Africa states that the use of recombinant technology in selecting fetal sex is unethical if done for non-medical purposes. It is the council’s opinion that gender testing may be beneficial in connection with sex-linked diseases and therapeutic abortion, but should be subject to the general guidelines and laws in South Africa. The council makes a broad statement on embryo research, requiring that all tests that determine non-sex-linked genetic diseases should be subject to the same general ethical guidelines. Genetic counseling should be provided to all research participants, and obtaining informed consent is crucial in the context of health research.
The Department of Health’s Genetic Policy Guidelines (2003) recommend that PND be available for women of reproductive age and individuals and families at high risk for genetic disorders or birth defects. As stated in the guidelines, PND should “be performed only for reasons relevant to the health of the fetus and only to detect genetic conditions or fetal malformations.”
The “Diagnostic Genetic Tests – South Africa” document published by the Department of Health provides a detailed list (as of 2004) of laboratories in South Africa and genetic tests conducted there.
- Department of Health, Sub-Directorate of Human Genetics, Human Genetics Policy Guidelines for the Management and Prevention of Genetic Disorders, Birth Defects and Disabilities, (2003).
- Department of Health, Sub-Directorate of Human Genetics, Diagnostic Genetic Tests - South Africa, (2004).
- Medical Research Council of South Africa, Guidelines on Ethics for Medical Research (General Principles/Reproductive Biology and Genetic Research – books 1 & 2), (2002 and 2005).
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