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In-vitro Fertilization - Essay Example

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It may be contended that in relation to IVF and the wider concept of designer babies, much of English law is unwarranted and unnecessary. In particular, this contention is based on the belief that there is no need for the law to intervene in a well-established 'Doctor - parents-to-be' relationship to prevent the latter benefiting from the use of whatever methods of assisted conception are possible to enable them to have children…
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In-vitro Fertilization
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Download file to see previous pages On that day, Louise Joy Brown, the world's first successful "test-tube" baby was born to British parents in Great Britain. It was considered an astounding feat for medicine, but it also led to sober reflection on the possible implications and abuse of the new technology.
In vitro fertilization is a technique wherein the egg cells are fertilized by sperm outside the mother' womb. The zygote (or the fertilized egg) is then transferred back to the uterus, and the woman is guided through what is hoped to be a nomal pregnancy resulting in successful childbirth.
Indeed, the question of in-vitro fertilization has given rise to a wide range of ethical and legal issues and has generated much controversy and in some cases, much objections from certain conservative sectors. It has been compared to Aldous Huxley's A Brave New World. (Imber, 1987, p. 228). In 2001, a French woman pretended to be the wife of her brother in order to undergo artificial insemination of his sperm with her egg. It drew outrage from some religious groups, believing the act to be an act of incest. Some raised concerns on the psychological well-being of the child, and the potential problems the truth of his/her birth might cause him/her. There are others, however, who believe that it is solely the prerogative of the parents. The fact remains that since the embryo is, for a certain period of time, located outside a woman's body, it can be manipulated in an unprecedented number of ways. (Mulkay, 1994, p. 611).
Because of these ethical issues, it has become imperative to create a legal framework that will provide the "operational guidelines", so to speak, for both patients and medical practitioners who wish to undertake in-vitro fertilization. Medical practice and law, after all, are governed to a huge extent by moral and ethical law. (Mason & McCall Smith, 2005) In July 1982, the Government formed the Warnock Committee whose mandate was as follows:
To consider recent and potential developments in medicine and science related to human fertilization and embryology; to consider what policies and safeguards should be applied, including consideration of the social, ethical and legal implications of these developments; and to make recommendations.1
Two years after it was set up, or in July of 1984, the Warnock Committee released its report and the recommendations made therein found their way to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act of 1990 (HFEA 1990). Said Montgomery (1991, p. 524):
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act of 1990 represents a milestone in biomedical regulation. Not only does it finally bring to fruition the long running government discussions about the proper limits of reproductive science, it also provides the first attempt in English Law to provide a comprehensive framework for making medical science democratically accountable. Its interest therefore arises both from the solutions it adopts for particular issues and from the model of regulation on which it builds. If the licensing authority which lies at the heart of its provisions proves successful, it is likely to be replicated in the oversight of many controversial areas of medical progress.
Viewed in equal parts with fear and hope (Bloomfield & Vurduvakis, 1995, p. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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