Page 2, 27th June 2003

27th June 2003
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Page 2, 27th June 2003 — Designer baby a 'dangerous precedent'
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Designer baby a 'dangerous precedent'

BY TRACY-JO SMITH

-THE PRO-LIFE movement has expressed concern that the birth of the first "designer baby" or "spare part baby" to be horn in the United Kingdom will set a dangerous precedent.

Scientists in Chicago created nine embryos through in vitro fertilisation, and then, using a form of pre-genetic implantation diagnosis, tested each embryo, and discarded those that were not considered an exact genetic match for four

year old Charlie Whitaker, who suffers from a rare form of anaemia.

Two of these embryos were eventually implanted, with one resulting in the birth of baby James Harry Whitaker, and scientists hope that a transplant of stem cells from the placenta will cure his older sibling.

The procedure is forbidden by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.

But Patrick Cusworth, a researcher for the pro-life counselling charity, LIFE, said: "It goes without saying that all legitimate efforts must be made to relieve the suffering of young Charlie Whitaker — within the sphere of existing medico-ethical principles and we understand completely the determination on the part of his parents to leave no stone unturned to bring about this.

"James is indeed a beautiful baby boy, and we offer our warmest congratulations to the Whitaker family on his birth.

"We have already heard, for example, that the HFEA are

investigating the possibility of parents deciding the sex of future children.

"As the specialist who supervised the pregnancy stated in an interview shortly after James' birth: it is just another milestone along the way. But, on the way to what? Society must be cautious of attempts to push further outward its ethical boundaries for fear that we will eventually find ourselves accepting without question techniques which are morally questionable."




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