The President's Council on Bioethics has apparently released several draft documents that recommend 'sweeping changes' to the regulation of assisted reproduction technologies (ARTs) in the US, and 'far-reaching' legislation that would ban some embryo research. The recommendations follow the publication of a report published earlier this year, entitled 'US Public Policy and the Biotechnologies That Touch the Beginnings of Human Life'. They include calls for the government to track all human embryos created in fertility clinics, to monitor the health of children born following fertility treatments, and to find out how often clinics allow parents to choose the sex of their child.
The recommendations were described by the Wall Street Journal last week as 'an ongoing effort by conservative members of the council to create new protections for human embryos created in fertility laboratories'. Pamela Madsen, executive director of the American Infertility Society, said that the council was trying a 'back door' attempt to give legal rights to human embryos, adding that the recommendations could 'change the face of reproductive medicine in this country'. Sean Tipton, of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, said that some of the proposals were 'laudable', but that some patients consider an embryo-tracking system to be an invasion of privacy.
The council also recommends that Congress consider passing a law that would ban attempts to fuse animal and human embryos, and also legislation to ban 'attempts to conceive a child by any means other than the union of egg and sperm obtained directly from no more and no less than two adult parents'. Council staff says the recommendations are 'discussion documents', and are subject to change before a final report is released in 2004. Leon Kass, the council's chair, has apparently been meeting with patient groups critical of the proposals. 'The draft recommendations are being revised and improved based, in part, on those meetings and discussions' said Carter Snead, general counsel of the Council.
Sources and References
President's Council on Bioethics' draft recommendations call for increased regulation of assisted reproduction, embryo research
US public policy and the biotechnologies that touch the beginnings of human life: a dailed overview