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SPUC questions 'designer baby' ruling

8 April 2003

SPUC questions 'designer baby' ruling Westminster, 8 April 2003--The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has questioned the ruling in the Hashmi 'designer baby' appeal, which was granted by the Court of Appeal today. The court overturned a ban on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) issuing a licence for human tissue typing following preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) in order to treat thalassaemia sufferer Zain Hashmi. SPUC general secretary Paul Tully said: "This anomalous judgement is the thin edge of the wedge to allowing embryos to be created and selected for non-medical reasons. Many embryos will now be created - and die - in this unethical search for genetically desirable children. "There appears to have been a great deal of misinformation reported about this case. The UK Thalassaemia Society has complained in the strongest possible terms about claims that beta thalassaemia major (Zain Hashmi's condition) is a terminal illness. Also, the suggestion that this case was brought by or against the Hashmi family is false, yet this claim was nonetheless used to attack Josephine Quintavalle of Comment on Reproductive Ethics. It seems as if certain interested parties prefer to exploit the family's situation for their own ends", said Mr. Tully. "SPUC has great sympathy for the Hashmis and other families carrying potentially harmful genetic conditions. The development of ethical means of treating these conditions, such as the use of combination immuno-suppressant regimes to facilitate tissue transplants, must be prioritised, instead of diverting resources into scientifically interesting, but morally unacceptable techniques. At the same time, we regard it as deplorable to use the suffering of families and children as a means of emotional blackmail to demand that human embryos in the test-tube can be chopped up, tested and discarded as if they were inert samples from an industrial chemical process", concluded Mr. Tully.

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