A controversial new bill is heading to the House Of Commons this spring. I will be in London next month, attending this conference, and hope to learn more about the efforts to oppose the contentious issues in the new bill:
Contentious issues in the new bill
Scientists will be allowed to create embryos which are half-human and half-animal by mixing animal and human sperm and eggs. The embryos will be allowed to live for only 14 days and will be used for experiments which scientists hope may lead to treatments for disease.
It will become legal for fertility doctors to screen embryos to choose one which is a tissue match for an existing sibling who has a disease and could benefit from a donation of stem cells, bone marrow or even part of an organ.
It will become legal for doctors to screen out embryos which have disabilities and implant only those free of disease. The law prohibits selecting a disabled embryo if healthy ones are available. But deaf groups want the law amended to allow them to select children who cannot hear.
Fathers not needed
The act would remove the requirement for fertility doctors to consider a child’s “need for a father” when offering treatment to single women or lesbian couples. Campaigners say this sends a message to society that fathers are not important.
MPs are planning to introduce an amendment to reduce the upper limit for abortions for social reasons from 24 to 20 weeks.
Artificial sperm and eggs
Another amendment will attempt to permit the use of artificial sperm and eggs in fertility treatment, should such treatment be possible in the future.
- Jennifer Lahl, MA, BSN, RN, is founder and president of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network. Lahl couples her 25 years of experience as a pediatric critical care nurse, a hospital administrator, and a senior-level nursing manager with a deep passion to speak for those who have no voice. Lahl’s writings have appeared in various publications including Cambridge University Press, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, and the American Journal of Bioethics. As a field expert, she is routinely interviewed on radio and television including ABC, CBS, PBS, and NPR. She is also called upon to speak alongside lawmakers and members of the scientific community, even being invited to speak to members of the European Parliament in Brussels to address issues of egg trafficking; she has three times addressed the United Nations during the Commission on the Status of Women on egg and womb trafficking.
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