Hard of hearing

ivf.jpgWhat rights do parents have over the embryos that they have created, or in conjunction with science via IVF? This issue has been raised recently in light of a proposal within the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill that:
Persons or embryos that are known to have a gene, chromosome or mitochondrion abnormality involving a significant risk that a person with the abnormality will have or develop a serious physical or mental disability, a serious illness or any other serious medical condition must not be preferred to those that are not known to have such an abnormality.

The government is worried that parents would seemingly choose to disable their offspring. They live in fear of such cases as Sharon Duchesneau and her partner who deliberately chose a deaf man to be the sperm provider to their act of artificial insemination. This was done to increase the likelihood of producing a deaf child, something they ultimately did, with their son being deaf in one ear and severely hard of hearing in the other. These actions do raise legitimate questions, most importantly why should people not be able to have children that bear a likeness to themselves?

After all you may freely choose your partner, so why can’t you freely choose your embryo, fully aware of the consequences of that choice. Some will find it shocking that potential parents would wish to disadvantage (in a conventional interpretation of societal norms) a child in such a way, but that disadvantage should only be borne by the parents and the child. Within a free society the wider community would require the parents and offspring to take full advantage of modern advances in technology and medicine to integrate and in no way burden others.

The proposed legislaton represents a dictat that would not be out of place within the NHS. But the current government has never fully understood the difference between public and private spheres; it has no respect for private choice, private spheres or individual liberty. We are thus left in a situation where the unborn child belongs to the state.