HFEA shows lack of respect for human life
22 September 2000
HFEA "shows lack of respect for human life" Westminster, 22 September 2000 - The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has criticised the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) for its fundamental lack of respect for the value of human life, an attitude which corrodes and corrupts our society. SPUC was reacting to news that the HFEA has issued a policy document on the genetic screening of embryos and has confirmed the possibility that deaf couples may be allowed to choose only deaf babies conceived through in vitro fertilisation (IVF). The HFEA said that "designing" babies for intelligence or looks is "off the agenda" but confirmed the possibility of deliberately selecting babies with disabilities. Alison Davis, national co-ordinator of the handicap division of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, who herself has spina bifida, said: "Already scientists are able to detect some disabilities in human embryos, which are then thrown away. Soon it will be possible to detect many more conditions by extracting a few cells from the embryo and carrying out genetic screening. Now they are suggesting that the opposite practice might be possible--to throw away the non-disabled embryos and allow only those with a disability to be implanted in the womb. "The idea of deliberately producing disabled babies is simply an extension of the current belief that there is a 'right to choose' the kind of baby whom an individual will accept or reject. Of course, in most cases this means that disabled children are thrown away or killed by abortion, but the principle is equally unjust and unethical in the case of rejecting non-disabled babies. "The truth is that every human being, disabled or not, has infinite value and should be welcomed into the world whatever his or her abilities. 'Manufacturing' human beings, and then rejecting those who do not measure up to our ideas of what is desirable, is a form of eugenics which should be rejected by all who recognise and respect the value of human beings. "Designing children and throwing away those we choose to reject for whatever reason is a form of fatal discrimination, which should not be tolerated in any civilised society."