The UK’s first “cancer-free” baby was born yesterday, but not without a shower of criticism for the parents and doctors, the BBC reports. Doctors screened the embryo for the altered BRCA1 gene, whose carriers have an 80% chance of developing breast cancer. “The parents will have been spared the risk of inflicting this disease on their daughter,” said a fertility expert.
But the anonymous parents haven’t been spared the backlash from critics who oppose the procedure, known as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. “It is basically a search-and-kill mechanism,” said one activist. “Underlying all this is eugenics.” Doctors worldwide use PGD, which costs about $11,800, to root out genes that are certain to cause illness, but BRCA1 isn’t certain to cause cancer. (Read more breast cancer stories.)