Press Release 04/2011

German Ethics Council discusses Opinion on preimplantation genetic diagnosis with members of German Bundestag

On Wednesday 23 March, the German Ethics Council held its second Parliamentary Evening in Berlin.

In his welcoming address, Norbert Lammert, the President of the Bundestag (German Federal Parliament), thanked the Ethics Council for its work. With reference to the Council's current Opinion on preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), Dr. Lammert emphasised that above all in questions of ethics there is "no single conclusive answer that is plainly free of doubt", but that it is necessary to evaluate conflicting points of view. He said that credit should be given to the German Ethics Council for having done this in its Opinion on PGD.

The meeting was held to enable a direct exchange between the Ethics Council and members of the German Bundestag who wished to inform themselves on the Ethics Council's latest Opinion on PGD and to critically examine and discuss aspects they regarded as relevant. Another important factor was the possibility that the three bills introduced into the Bundestag may be further developed.

Against the background of the forthcoming consultations of the German Bundestag on the subject of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Council members Wolf-Michael Catenhusen, Christiane Woopen and Wolfgang Huber presented the Council's Opinion with its two diverging proposals.

Central issues in the following discussion with the members of the German Bundestag included the possible restriction of the use of PGD, the accuracy of the term "a slippery slope" when applied to the permission of PGD, and the passing on of what is known as superfluous genetic information. The question was also raised as to how far the Ethics Council has taken account of social reality in its deliberations and whether the social climate has changed in countries which permit PGD.

In the course of the evening, the Chair of the Ethics Council, Edzard Schmidt-Jortzig, also presented the 2010 Annual Report to the President of the Bundestag, Norbert Lammert.

The Opinion on preimplantation genetic diagnosis, the statements of Christiane Woopen and Wolfgang Huber as well as the Ethics Council's Annual Report may be accessed at