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Christian Lawyers strongly against embryo checks being widened

Printer-friendly version The HFEA has recommended that embryo checks be widened to check for faulty genes not guaranteed to cause disease. The HFEA's recommendation refers to three genes which cause cancer later in life - usually when people are in their 30s or 40s. Carrying the BRCA1, BRCA2 and the HNPCC genes does not mean a person will definitely develop cancer, and there are screening and treatment available for the conditions.

Andrea Minichiello Williams of the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship commented ‘How is it possible that we have come to a point in our society where we think it is beneficial to screen and then have the choice to destroy an embryo simply because there is a risk that later in life the person born from that embryo might develop cancer? Screening in situations such as this is clearly unacceptable; it leads to the devaluation of embryos’ lives, the devaluation of disabled adults lives, and an increasingly uniform and eugenicised society. We believe that from the moment of creation, an embryo has value and dignity; the preservation of the life of that embryo is of paramount importance. An embryo is a human life and should be accorded commensurate protection.’

The current HFEA guidance on the use of Pre Genetic Diagnosis states that such diagnosis should only be available where there is a 'significant risk of a serious genetic condition'. As inherited cancer conditions have a later onset, a lower penetrance and are potentially treatable they do not fall into the criteria of a serious genetic condition.

It is not the role of the HFEA to make decisions such as this. Parliament, in the form of fully public debates and binding votes in both chambers of the House, should be the only arbiter of these complex ethical issues and we would hope that Parliament would have the sense to ensure against embryo checks being widened.

The HFEA as regulator must be seen to and must in reality only regulate, and must not take policy decisions from an unaccountable, arms-length position.

Lawyers' Christian Fellowship Media Enquiries:
Andrea Minichiello Williams,
LCF Public Policy Officer
0771 2591164