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Quintavalle: The quandry in bioethicsThe case of R. (Quintavalle) v. Human Fertilisation Embryology Authority (and Secretary of State for Health) presents a handful of legal problems. The biggest legal query to arise from the case is the inevitable harvest of babies, toddlers and very young children for their bone marrow. This article unpacks the judicial story behind Quintavalle to reveal how the strict provisions of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 - namely ‘suitable condition’ under schedule 2 paragraph 1(1)(a) and ‘treatment services’ and ‘assisting’ under section 2(1) - were widely misinterpreted to introduce the social selection of embryos into law. The legal loopholes created by the judgment (embryo wastage, welfare, eugenics and the legality of child harvest in particular) are also identified. It will be concluded that screening for a tissue match is social selection despite arguments to the contrary and that parents are not yet entitled in law to harvest a very young child for bone marrow, making the creation of a saviour sibling under the 1990 Act as a result of Quintavalle ultimately futile.
Twenty-seven years of controversy: The perils of PGDIt has been 27 years since the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 was passed in the United Kingdom in response to advances in fertility treatment. Preimplantation genetic diagnosis - the screening of embryos for genetic diseases - has led to lengthy ethical debates on sex selection, eugenics, disabilities, saviour siblings, surplus embryos and most recently, adult-onset diseases (the BRCA cancer gene). This article provides an overview of how the law and practice of PGD in the United Kingdom and United States over the last quarter of a century has developed into new ‘branches’ of PGD, and predicts where they may be heading in the future. It concludes that many of the adverse views on PGD are unfounded and that some of these unique branches may develop to accommodate the screening of additional social traits. An underlying conflict between reproductive autonomy and a right to an open future is also rising under the surface to be noted for the future.