British MPs Call on Government to Remove Restrictions on "Savior Siblings"

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 1, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 1,

London, England ( — British MPs told their colleagues in Parliament on Wednesday that the European nation should remove its barriers on scientists creating so-called "savior siblings." The siblings are human embryos researchers want to create for the sole purpose of killing them for parts for unborn children with disabilities.

Using a process called human leukocyte antigen (HLA) screening, scientists can identify unborn children who could be matched with tissues from created embryos.

The current Human Tissue and Embryos Bill only allows the creation of the designer babies in cases when an unborn child has a "life-threatening" condition. Also, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) must approve each case.

In one example, the HFEA allowed HLA screening to select a donor sibling for Zain Hashmi who had beta thalassaemia and needed blood transfusions to stay alive.

The MPs want to reduce the limits to allow the creation and destruction of human life for body parts when a baby has only a "serious" condition.

If the change is adopted, pro-life advocates fear it will lead to the wholesale marketing of human beings created and destroyed for spare body parts for other humans who don’t measure up to perfect standards.

After a hearing on the proposed change, a joint committee of Lords and MPs endorse it and suggested the law should be changed to allow more "savior siblings."

"We recognize this is a delicate area," it said, according to a report in the London Independent newspaper.

"However, given the Government’s apparent acceptance of the principle of selecting for ‘savior siblings’ we do not understand why the practice is limited to ‘life-threatening’ conditions capable of treatment using umbilical cord blood stem cells," it added.

Health Minister Dawn Primarolo responded to the new report for the government and said, "We are grateful for the report by the pre-legislative scrutiny committee, which we will study with interest, and respond to in due course."