What do other people think of this bill. I only found out about it a few days ago on a USA message board for deaf people. The deaf are upset as part of the bill is preventing genetically deaf people from producing babies. There is all this talk about 'leading in research' and about human/animal hybrids that I find alarming too. So please read it and see what you think. Please note that the first quote is government bases so you will have to read between the lines.
Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill published
Health Minister Dawn Primarolo today published the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill to reform the regulation of human embryology and ensure that Britain remains a world leader in medical research. The Bill will not however alter the model of regulation or the basic foundations of the existing law.
The Bill updates current regulation of assisted reproduction and embryo research in the light of developments in technology and society's attitudes. It will ensure regulation is fit for purpose, and help maintain the UK's position as a world leader in reproductive technologies and research.
The main elements of the Bill are:
* ensuring that the creation and use of all human embryos outside the body - whatever the process used in their creation - are subject to regulation;
* a ban on selecting the sex of offspring for non-medical reasons;
* retention of a duty to take account of "the welfare of the child" when providing fertility treatment, but removal of the reference to "the need for a father";
* provisions to recognise same-sex couples as legal parents of children conceived through the use of donated sperm, eggs or embryos;
* altering restrictions on the use of HFEA-collected data to make it easier to do follow-up research;
* provisions increasing the scope of legitimate embryo research activities, including regulation of "inter-species embryos" (embryos combining human and animal genetic material).Parliament: Deaf Embryo selection to be made illegal
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill is currently passing through parliament, and currently in its second reading in the House of Lords. A bill is proposed law that passes through parliament, to be debated (and amended) before it becomes law. i.e. an Act of Parliament.
This week debate touched on Clause 14 which states:
(9) 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 developó
(a) a serious physical or mental disability,
(b) a serious illness, or
(c) any other serious medical condition,
must not be preferred to those that are not known to have such an abnormality.
That means you aren't allowed to select a deaf embryo, and this has been confirmed as parliament's intention through the passage of this Bill (and could be used for statutory interpretation later).
House of Lords debate
Baroness Deech (Crossbench)
In the scientific field, the Bill confirms the wider use of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. That is good. I hope that your Lordships will be pleased that the deliberate choice of an embryo that is, for example, likely to be deaf will be prevented by Clause 14.
This prevents selection of an embryo if it is known to be born deaf. It does not prohibit selection on the basis that a child will be born hearing, and prefers it. Since genetic testing will be common place in the UK in future, you are hardly going to be able to leave things to nature and 'wait and see', if a child is born deaf or hearing.
Huge Implications on deaf fertilisation
This could have huge implications for families where there is a genetic trait of deafness. Say e.g. you have a deaf gene in your family, and for whatever reason needed assisted fertilisation in order to get pregnant. If the embryos developed were known be deaf, a female would not be allowed to be made pregnant by a deaf embryo, and a hearing embryo must always be picked. This could also mean that deaf people are prohibited from partaking in assistance with fertilisation (donation of eggs, sperm). Do you agree with this?
Parallels of past historical oppression
To me this starts to enter eugenics and what Alexander Graham Bell was advocating. A lesser form of sterlisation of deaf people, what was practiced in Nazi Germany, to prevent deaf pro-creation.
Who is objecting to this, or speaking on our behalf?
What the hell is anyone doing about this proposed legislation? If it is ignored, by summer 2008 this will on the statute books and will be law. Who exactly is protecting deaf interest here, and statements by politicians that we are not equal? All those deaf organisations who make millions "on behalf of us" are doing what exactly? Sound asleep in a coma? Too hearing controlled or damn scared to say anything, through fear of upsetting their funders, and other chartiable philanthropists? Deaf voice and protection of interests is where exactly?