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Embryos as 'human beings'

Dr Kirsty Horsey

Progress Educational Trust

15 November 2002

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[BioNews, London] Referring to a recent change made to the charter of the Federal Secretary's Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections, the American Infertility Association (AIA) has accused the Bush administration of 'shifting the landscape of reproductive rights'.

The panel's charter was reworked to include the word 'embryos', meaning that it states for the first time that the welfare of embryos in research involving human subjects must be considered. The AIA says that 'this could result in devastating restrictions on embryonic research at fertility clinics' and accuses the administration of trying to 'pull the wool over American's eyes'. Concerned that the new phrasing might mean that embryos cannot even be frozen, Pamela Madsen, executive director of the AIA, asked 'if embryos are given this special status, how is that going to affect infertility patients, who create embryos during IVF treatments?'

The science journal Nature reports that 'an air of unease has settled over US researchers who work on human embryos' since the change in the committee's remit. It suggests that there is a suspicion that the move is part of a wider pro-life agenda to extend legal protection to human embryos and fetuses. This, says Nature, could impact badly on important research work, including work using embryonic stem cells for medical research.

© Copyright Progress Educational Trust

Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.

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Date Added: 15 November 2002   Date Updated: 12 September 2004
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