Ethical issues in preconception genetic screening

Today, we are given numerous reproductive options. This is making couples feel more responsible for making the right choice: A choice that depends not only on their medical and genetic status, but also on their beliefs and their moral outlook.

Preconception genetic screening (PCS) has been offered to for families with recessive genetic diseases. It has also been offered to communities with high prevalence of severe genetic disorders (for example Ashkenazi Jews).

The tests have become more reliable and cost effective, making it possible to consider genetic screening for carrier status in populations. This has led to an ethical debate: On one hand, preconception genetic screening could increase the reproductive choices for individuals or couples and lead to enhanced reproductive autonomy. On the other hand, it is not necessarily so that more choice enhances autonomy. Too much choice can lead to moral distress. The debate has also revolved around the possible medicalization of the reproductive process that preconception genetic screening can lead to.


This project will:

  • Explore the ethical issues of preconception genetic screening, taking the family’s and the individual's perspective into account.
  • Focus on the interface between health care providers (for example clinical geneticists and gynecologists) and the prospective parents/family.
  • Highlight the role and responsibility of family members and health care providers in the decision making process regarding preconception genetic screening.


PhD project

Time table