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Deaf couples could be allowed to use embryo-screening technology and choose to have a deaf child, after a climb-down by the Government in the face of campaigning.

Under the proposed Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, using embryo-screening deliberately to create a child with a serious medical condition - which officials had said includes being deaf - would be illegal.

Now, however, the Department of Health has agreed to cut from the Bill any reference to deafness as a serious medical condition.

The move could pave the way for the Bill to be amended, when it passes through the Commons later this year, permitting a challenge over whether deafness should be classed as a serious medical condition for the purposes of the bill and allowing parents to pick an embryo, using IVF treatment, that will develop into a deaf child.

The Bill has already angered many MPs and church leaders because it will permit the creation of hybrid embryos, where human DNA is inserted into animal cells for research, and will also remove the requirement for a father in couples...