Japan doctor conducts questionable inseminated egg tests

Japan doctor conducts questionable inseminated egg tests

 A Japanese doctor said today he had defied medical society guidelines by regularly testing all 23 pairs of chromosomes before implanting inseminated ova in the wombs of women during the process of fertility treatment.

The Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology approves such tests on inseminated eggs only when there is a possibility that unborn children would contract serious hereditary diseases, and observers say the Kobe doctor's procedure could be construed as the selection or the elimination of certain lives and fuel public controversy.

Tetsuo Otani, head of Otani Ladies Clinic, argued in a press conference, saying, "It cannot be construed as the selection of lives because inseminated ova that have yet to be implanted in women's bodies cannot be called lives under law."

The medical society's guideline stipulates that a doctor who wishes to conduct tests on inseminated eggs must seek approval of the society, and that the examination procedure adopted by the society takes a maximum of three months.

"Patients (going through fertility treatment) are often old and we cannot make them wait until the examination is completed," Otani said.

The clinic began applying in February last year a technique that can test all 23 pairs of chromosomes, whereas only some of the chromosomes are analyzed through conventional methods.

The clinic said it used the procedure on 129 couples by May this year, of which 19 women gave birth. The pregnancy rate was about 70 percent, while the figure is 25-40 percent when conventional in-vitro fertilization techniques are used, according to the clinic.

Otani was expelled from the society before, for testing inseminated eggs between 2002 and 2004 in order to tell the sexes of the babies to be born.

He filed a suit demanding nullification of the medical society's guideline, saying such a regulation on the inseminated eggs is illegal, but lost the case in 2008.

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