Bioethics and Reproduction
Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The latest report by the President's Council on Bioethics, ''Reproduction and Responsibility: The Regulation of New Biotechnologies," is an important addition to the current conversation, showing that even areas of sharp contention have a fair amount of common ground.
As its title implies, the report is focused on the regulation of reproductive technologies, such as assisted reproduction, human genetics and human embryo research. All are areas that council members feel have been overlooked, under-regulated and possibly in need of limited legislative restraint.
The report is not a book of new rules, but rather a diagnostic document followed by a series of recommendations. One of its principle findings is that there is a great deal more to be found, particularly with regard to the use and safety of various artificial reproductive technologies. There are few standards for data collection and even fewer enforcement mechanisms. As a consequence, it is difficult for prospective patients to know what additional risks - if any - they might be accepting for themselves or their hoped-for children when choosing among different techniques.
The paucity of data (and likely the controversial nature of the subjects) led the council to lay out a series of "modest measures" in order to "alleviate some clear and significant present problems." Surprisingly, they found unanimous agreement on more than simply the need to gather more information. …