23 February 2002

BABIES DESIGNED AS A SOURCE OF TISSUE FOR OTHERS

The Medical Ethics Alliance is opposed to the decision of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to licence the pre implantaition selection of embryos , for the purpose of bringing to birth a baby for tissue donation. This goes far beyond pre implantation diagnosis for the purpose of having a healthy baby and it is disengenuous of them to imply otherwise. It is the deliberate bringing to birth of a child "designed" to be a source of donor cells for another.

The desired stem cells they hope will be recovered from the baby`s
umbilical cord. Should this fail , bone marrow stem cells would be needed. This
would require an invasive technique which raises further ethical questions in a child below the age of consent.

Contrary to some press reports the condition Thalasaemia Major , is far
from rare. This approach has considerable commercial potential both in this country and in those parts of the world such as the Middle East and India where the disease is endemic. The decision by the HFEA sets a dangerous precedent and starts a course of events far beyond their control.

All children are of inestimable value in themselves and it is contrary to their dignity, and the dignity of their procreation to be thus selected, conceived and utilised for the benefit of another, even a family member.

Medical Ethics Alliance