Of 15 countries in western Europe, 12 permit PGD; some – including Britain and France – have done so for about 20 years. The most recent country to allow it is Germany, where it has been legal since 2011.
In Italy, on the other hand, PGD was commonly used until the law was amended in 2004, making it illegal. This change was condemned by the European Court of Human Rights.
In addition to PGD, nine countries allow HLA typing: in essence the selection of an immunocompatible embryo when a sibling has a serious illness. This child could be a source of stem cells used to treat his or her sick sibling. Such an embryo is referred to as a “saviour sibling”.
In five countries the law explicitly mentions PGD as a method for selecting the sex of the baby, but only in order to prevent a sex-linked disorder. Despite this restriction, a study quoted by the Swiss government in favour of amending Swiss law estimates that “in two per cent of cases, PGD is carried out in order to choose the sex of the child, with no reference to any disorder”. In the United States, where the practice is considerably more liberal, the proportion is thought to be ten per cent.