On 5 June 2016, the Swiss electorate voted on the amendment to the Reproductive Medicine Act (RMA), proposed on 12 December 2014.
Key points in brief
In June 2015, a clear majority of Swiss voters approved a constitutional amendment on preimplantation genetic diagnostics (PGD). This creates a legal basis for carrying out PGD in Switzerland. In PGD, embryos created by in-vitro fertilisation are genetically examined before they are implanted in the mother’s uterus. As it stands today, the Reproductive Medicine Act (RMA) prohibits this practice. With the proposed amendment to this act, the existing ban would be lifted and a clear framework established for PGD in Switzerland.
The aim of the referendum
A referendum has been called against the amended RMA, as some consider the new legal provisions on PGD to be too far-reaching. In particular, they fear an ethically unacceptable increase in tests conducted on human embryos.
What are we voting on?
The amended RMA only permits PGD if the parents are carriers of serious hereditary diseases, or if they cannot bear children naturally. PGD is not permitted for any other individuals under the revised RMA. The number of embryos that can be cultured in each course of treatment is limited to twelve. Embryos that are not implanted straightaway may be frozen for later implantation. Other procedures such as genetic sex determination or screening for specific physical traits (e.g. eye colour) are not permitted under the amended RMA.
Position of the Federal Council and Parliament
The Federal Council and Parliament both recommend approving the amendment to the Reproductive Medicine Act. They are in favour of making PGD available, under the right conditions, to couples affected in Switzerland.
Last modification 05.06.2016