In 20 to 40 years, most people around the world with good health coverage will conceive their children not through sex but in a fertility clinic. They will do this to use “Easy Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis” (“Easy PGD”). This will be an improvement on a technology now more than 25 years old that will allow parents to make 100 embryos from his sperm and her skin cells (no more costly, unpleasant, and risky egg harvest), get whole genome sequence results for each embryo, and use those results to select which embryos to transfer for possible implantation, pregnancy, and birth. Economic, social, political, and legal factors will make this seemingly unlikely result highly likely in the United States; its widespread adoption will lead to some difficult questions about safety, fairness, coercion, family structures, and “naturalness.”
Hank Geely's new book The End of Sex and the Future of Reproduction (Harvard University Press, 2016) is available for purchase at the Stanford University bookstore.
Hank Greely is the Deane F. and Kate Edelman Johnson Professor of Law and Professor, by courtesy, of Genetics at Stanford University. He specializes in ethical, legal, and social issues arising from advances in the biosciences, particularly from genetics, neuroscience, and human stem cell research. He directs the Stanford Center for Law and the Biosciences and the Stanford Program on Neuroscience in Society; chairs the California Advisory Committee on Human Stem Cell Research; and serves on the Neuroscience Forum of the Institute of Medicine, the Advisory Council for the National Institute for General Medical Sciences of NIH, the Committee on Science, Technology, and Law of the National Academy of Sciences, and the NIH Multi-Council Working Group on the BRAIN Initiative. He was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2007. His book, The End of Sex and the Future of Human Reproduction, was published in May 2016. Professor Greely graduated from Stanford in 1974 and from Yale Law School in 1977. He served as a law clerk for Judge John Minor Wisdom on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and for Justice Potter Stewart of the United States Supreme Court. After working during the Carter Administration in the Departments of Defense and Energy, he entered private law practice in Los Angeles in 1981. He joined the Stanford faculty in 1985.
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