British Pro-Life Groups Decry "Designer Baby" Decision

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 8, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

British Pro-Life Groups Decry "Designer Baby" Decision Email this article
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by Maria Gallagher Staff Writer
September 8, 2004

London, England ( — The head of one of the UK’s leading pro-life groups says he’s saddened by the news that an Ulster couple has been given the go-ahead to produce the nation’s first "designer baby."

The couple wants the child conceived so that the baby can provide treatment for their toddler son, who is suffering from a blood disorder.

"Of course we have every sympathy for parents of children with serious conditions and understand their desperation to find a cure," said Jack Scarisbrick, national chairman of the group known as LIFE.

"But the best of ends, namely to cure a sick child, does not justify the means. The creation of a human being to ‘fix’ another is unjustifiable," Scarisbrick added.

The Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority has cleared the way for Joe and Julie Fletcher to begin fertility treatments to create a perfect genetic match for their two-year-old son, Joshua.

Scarisbrick called the HFEA an "unprincipled body" for giving the go-ahead for a designer baby.

Mrs. Fletcher told the Belfast Telegraph, "It’s been a rollercoaster ride for us. This was the decision we wanted. We have been fighting for this for so long. Up until this decision was taken we had not ruled out travelling to America. Now, we will sit down and discuss what happens next. We could be on our way for the treatment within a few weeks."

Scarisbrick says Mrs. Fletcher’s statement "is indicative of the family’s approach to new life — the new child will not be a person in his own right but ‘treatment’ for their existing son. We have gone yet further down the slippery slope in creating human beings to provide ‘spare parts’ for another."

Joshua Fletcher is one of only 100 children in the UK with Diamond Blackfan Anaemia, meaning his body does not produce enough red blood cells. The affliction makes patients more vulnerable to cancer.

Neither his parents nor his five-year-old brother Adam offer a genetic match.

As many as a dozen embryos will be produced through the Fletchers’ in vitro fertilization treatments. Doctors plan to screen the embryos in order to find a perfect genetic match. The rest of the unique human beings will be destroyed.

"This procedure will become more and more routine and, just as the killing of unborn children hardly raises an eyebrow, so the deliberate creation and destruction of tiny human beings to provide ‘spare parts’ for others seems to be barely cause for concern," said Scarisbrick.

"Little Joshua may find a cure (and the success of the treatment is not guaranteed) but the Fletchers have new problems to deal with. The new child will never know whether it was created out of love or simply as ‘back-up’ for his or her brother," he added.

LIFE insists that the designer baby case could have a devastating impact upon UK culture.

"Soon the deliberate creation of people for the sake of others will become everyday. It is a horrifying prospect. Children are ends in themselves and should be accepted unconditionally," Scarisbrick added.