Westminster, 2 July 2007 - The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has attacked plans by the chairman of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) to harmonise the regulation of IVF in different EU states.
Professor Paul Devroey, chairman of ESHRE, is setting up a task force to compare legislation in the European Union and to propose a basic set of standards. He wants the European Commission and the European Parliament to consider how rules might be harmonised.
John Smeaton, SPUC national director, said: "The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children is writing to MEPs and to the European Commission to object strongly to Professor Devroey's plans. His plans run counter to the right to life, to the principle of subsidiarity, to legal systems of European countries which insist on protection for children before they are born, and they would be a gross infringement of their national sovereignty.
"The main target of Professor Paul Devroey's task force appears to be countries that have taken steps to protect human embryos from abuse in line with their support for the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
"The manufacture of human beings through artificial reproduction is unethical and impractical. Fewer than 5% of human embryos created through IVF survive to birth as they are exposed to dangers such as destructive experimentation, freezing, thawing, quality control testing and an increased miscarriage risk if they are implanted. Over a million embryos have perished in the UK alone since IVF was first introduced.
"If the EU wishes to improve the medical treatment available to infertile couples it should be funding and promoting ethical services such as NaPro technology centres in every EU state. NaPro Technology offers an ethical, non-invasive and cost-effective alternative to IVF with a higher success rate than any method of artificial reproduction. We call upon the EU to promote ethical fertility care and to refrain from targeting countries that have passed legislation to protect human life at its earliest stages."
Alison Davis, co-ordinator of the disability rights group No Less Human, a group within SPUC, commented: "It has been reported that since some countries ban pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, a method of embryo selection which enables those with disabilities to be selected out, couples in these countries who 'need' such services are 'forced to' pay for them in countries which do allow them. This strongly suggests that it is somehow compulsory to ensure that disabled lives are snuffed out at the earliest possible moment. Professor Paul Devroey has noted that countries such as the UK and Belgium take what he calls a 'rational and liberal' approach to assisted reproductive technologies, and it is these that he wants other EU countries to take up. There is nothing 'rational' about facilitating the destruction of embryos with disabilities. Rather it is the epitome of fatal eugenic discrimination."