PreGGI - Meanings and Practices of Prenatal Genetics in Germany and Israel

A comparative, interdisciplinary study

Projectmanagement:
Christina Schües (University of Lübeck)
Christoph Rehmann-Sutter (University of Lübeck)
Aviad Raz (Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Be'er Sheva)

Associates:
Stefan Reinsch (University of Lübeck)
Hannes Foth
(University of Lübeck)
Yael Hashiloni-Dolev (Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yaffo)
Tamar Nov Klaiman (Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Be'er Sheva)

Collaborating associate:
Anika König

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Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG)

New developments in the field of prenatal genetics – especially the introduction of non-invasive blood tests, for example for chromosomal defects such as trisomy 21, 18 and 13, as well as the possibility of sequencing – could bring far reaching and variegated changes to the whole area of prenatal diagnosis. Whereas common invasive tests such as amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling may cause miscarriage, this risk does not apply to non-invasive testing, which relies solely on a test of the mother’s blood. However, for many people it can be difficult to grasp the meaning of the increased amount of scientific data provided by such tests. Under these circumstances, what is the basis for decision-making about testing the next generation? The introduction of this new technology touches upon fundamental questions concerning our philosophical and social understanding of pregnancy, life, intergenerational relationships and the conditio humana.

Germany and Israel – both at the cutting edge of Western medical technology – in certain respects represent opposing poles of professional cultures, regulations and policies regarding reproductive medicine. Hence, the comparison between these two countries will highlight national similarities, variation and pluralism in the moral assessment of biomedicine. At the same time, this comparative study has the potential to contribute to a better understanding of the culturally specific views in these two countries and beyond.

The aim of the project is to better understand the interrelatedness of social and technological change in the field of prenatal genetic diagnosis, to elucidate its cultural and theoretical background, and to assess and analyse its current and possibly future meaning for both individuals and society in general. The project investigates the views of (non-)users of these tests and re-examines ethical evaluations of and legal regulations for prenatal diagnosis. It thus combines three interrelated approaches: an empirical study, a philosophical and theoretical examination, and a future-oriented perspective.

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