Birth of Girl in Britain After Genetic Engineering Prompts Bioethics Worries

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 12, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Birth of Girl in Britain After Genetic Engineering Prompts Bioethics Worries

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
January 12
, 2009

London, England (LifeNews.com) — The birth of a baby girl in England, after she and other IVF embryos were screened for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes which can cause breast cancer, is prompting bioethics concerns. Pro-life groups are worried that it is just the latest in genetically engineered humans.

University College Hospital in London claims this is the first successful use of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis to find a baby who is thought to be free of the breast cancer gene.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority allowed the use of the controversial procedure to find genes among 11 three-day-old embryos. Pro-life advocates assume the six embryos who were found to have BRCA1 were killed.

The baby’s father says he and her mother had a duty to do what they did to make sure their daughter is cancer free even though it likely resulted in the deaths of other unique human beings.

Josephine Quintavalle, of the pro-life Comment on Reproductive Ethics, expressed a grave concern about the creation of designer babies.

"The goal posts have already be moved so much in this area it is worrying what might happen next," she said. "People have to realize that we will not cure diseases by eradicating the carriers of particular genes."

Michaela Aston, from the Life charity, agreed.

"Life celebrates all new life and welcomes this child into the world. However, we are greatly concerned for the loss of those embryos discarded as not being considered worthy of life," she said. "The big question is: Where is this going to stop?"

"We need to remember that we are more than the sum of our genes," she told the Scotsman newspaper.

Other critics say the doctors at University College in London have their science wrong.

They say there is no such thing as a gene that causes cancer by itself and the truth is that factors such as exposure to cancer-causing chemicals in foods, medicines, personal care products, abortion, pesticides or other industrial chemicals cause the expression of the cancer gene.

Without all that toxic chemical exposure, the gene never gets expressed, they say.

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