The Ethics of Human Fertility

The Evening Standard (London, England), January 22, 2004 | Go to article overview

The Ethics of Human Fertility


THE FRAUGHT ETHICAL issues associated with IVF have been given a new twist. Suzi Leather, the head of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has created - and, perhaps, courted - a vigorous controversy with her declaration that the law should be amended to make it easier for single and lesbian women to have a baby using fertility techniques. At present, legislation requires clinics to "take account of the need of a child for a father" - although half of Britain's IVF clinics interpret this requirement in such a way as to assist single women to become pregnant. Granted, Miss Leather has a point, that IVF legislation must take account of broader changes in society. And of course, many single women raise families without fathers very successfully. But any change to the law that might make it easier to create children who would grow up fatherless is troubling. The decision whether to create such children is not only a matter for the individuals concerned - it has an impact on the society in which they grow up. The broad truth is that children flourish best when they are reared by a father and mother in a stable relationship. That principle should be broadly upheld across the board - including fertility legislation - especially since considerable amounts of taxpayers' money are now invested in assisted pregnancy. …

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