Church Groups on New Panels to Vet Couples Who Want Designer Babies; FERTILITY AUTHORITY SET TO LOSE POWERS IN RADICAL OVERHAUL OF LEGISLATION
Byline: ISABEL OAKESHOTT
COUPLES who want "designer babies" will have to win over a panel of politicians and church groups under radical new plans.
MPs say controversial decisions about fertility treatment should no longer be made by bureaucrats.
They want to end "closed-door" rulings on issues such as sex selection, cloning and IVF for older women. It is expected that a committee at Westminster will rule how far doctors can go.
The new panel is the centrepiece of plans to overhaul Britain's fertility laws. The move follows a long investigation by Westminster's science and technology committee.
Controversial decisions about fertility treatment cases are currently made in private by officials at the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). But in a major report this week, the science and technology committee will say the fertility watchdog should stick to paperwork and not sit in judgment on patients. Other key recommendations are expected to include: . An end to pressure on IVF patients to prove they will be "good parents".
. An end to regulations stifling vital research.
. A new "presumption of equality" for single women and lesbians seeking IVF treatment.
Under the present system, the fate of patients who want unusual fertility treatment rests in the hands of as few as three members of the HFEA. They are drawn from a 16-strong ethics board of medics and lay people appointed by the authority.
Unelected individuals - including a BBC finance director, a financial ombudsman and two journalists - are given sweeping powers to decide how far science should be allowed to go.
Patients, banned from attending hearings about their cases, are denied the chance to make personal appeals. …