The HFEA shifted towards a more lenient view of parental power recently, by allowing pre-implantation genetic diagnosis to select embryos where there is a strong chance of developing cancer. This is a welcome move towards a liberal view of these matters, yet still maintains regulatory powers over what ought to be private decisions. The HFEA is forced to move as the grain of popular opinion is more willing to accept such choices and restrictions question the purpose of such morally transparent decisions.
But breast cancer is different because it does not inevitably affect a child from birth and may or may not develop later in life. There is also a chance it can be cured, if caught early enough.
Permission to carry out PGD for breast cancer had to be obtained from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority by the London clinic which performed the procedure.
The body, which licenses IVF clinics and embryo research, gave the go ahead after holding a public consultation.
Fertility expert Paul Serhal, who led the PGD team, said: "We have now entered a new era of being able to help people who have cancer genes. Not only can we liberate people from the guilt of passing a cancer gene onto their child, we can cut off transmission of the gene once and for all. These are families who have been plagued by this genetic curse for generations. With a wave of a magic wand the job is done, and this is fantastic."