Fears over 'designer baby' ruling

 The decision by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, (HFEA) to allow a couple to have a baby using IVF - selecting an embryo whose tissue matches that of a sick sibling - has been greeted with concern by life campaigners. Nick Harris, spokesman for LIFE, said: " We are extremely disappointed by this ruling. Whilst curing an older sibling of a potentially life-threatening illness is a noble aim, our concern (and the HFEA's) must also be for any child created by this process. LIFE firmly believes that this ruling cannot be in the resulting child's best interests, and that the HFEA has made a very bad decision. "All children should be accepted and loved unconditionally. Any child resulting from this procedure will be chosen and accepted only on condition that they can provide tissue for another person. As this child grows, the parents will have to explain that he/she wouldn't exist if it weren't for the bone marrow he/she happens to carry. This could be a terrible burden for any person to shoulder. "It has become fashionable in ethics recently to focus only on the final goal, in this case curing another person, and gloss over any major ethical dilemmas and potential problems, branding those who oppose new, ethically dubious, methods painted as uncaring, hypocrites or even Luddites. But there must be boundaries in any medical procedure. Just as we don't force everyone to donate their organs once they die (we require an organ donor consent declaration first) we shouldn't create a child who is then obliged to donate bone marrow, perhaps for the rest of his/her life. "LIFE calls on the Government to implement a major re-evaluation of the HFEA and the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act. As the recent High Court ruling on cloning and the resulting emergency legislation proved, biotechnology is moving very quickly and the public is losing confidence in science and our ability to apply proper frameworks to it. We need a wide-ranging review of all aspects of new reproductive technology, and we need it now." A spokesman for the Pro-life Alliance said: " It is a shocking endorsement of eugenics, since the process involves the creation, genetic screening and destruction of any embryos who do not measure up to the particular requirements of the commissioning couple. Further, the embryo deemed worthy to continuing living is only selected on the ground that he will be useful to someone else. Once born the child will then be subjected, during his or her early life, to enforced surgical interventions of no benefit to the child himself. The whole process demonstrates a terrifying instrumentalisation of human life and is a travesty of the HFEA's mandate to consider the welfare of the child before issuing any licences. Paul Tully, from the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC) said: "We do not lack sympathy for people suffering from potentially fatal diseases, but we believe they should be offered ethical treatments. Exactly the kind of case for which PGD is being proposed can now be addressed by a new technique. Only this week a major development has been reported in bone marrow transplants where there is no close tissue-matched sibling. "The life of Amy Thompson was saved by the use of new combinations of immuno-suppressant drugs. Amy suffered from potentially fatal aplastic anaemia but she and others have been cured through the use of this ethical technique. (See: "Amy's breakthrough gives sick children hope for the future" Lorraine Fraser, Sunday Telegraph 09/12/2001) Tully added: "Parents should not be forced to accept unethical procedures like PGD in order to give their children a chance. Furthermore, it could create psychological scars for the children receiving treatment to know that their cure has been at the expense of brother and sister embryos destroyed in the search for a compatible donor."

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