Tag Archives: IVF

Ethics and embryology – should deaf parents be allowed to choose a deaf child?

So, riddle me this: a deaf couple want a second child, and because of the woman’s age they’ll probably need to use in-vitro fertilisation techniques. No problem so far … until you find that the parents want to be able to select for a deaf child, and the UK government’s recent embryology bill will not allow them to do so.

This is a textbook ethical dilemma, but it’s the sort of thing that advances in reproductive technology and genetic engineering are going to make more commonplace. I find myself (unusually) wanting to side with the government on this one – but then I’m not a parent, and I imagine that changes your perspective quite severely.

I’ve sat here at the keyboard for about half an hour trying to formulate an argument for either side, but I can’t find anywhere I’m entirely comfortable – what do you think?

"Silicon womb" trials to begin in UK

henna-pregnancy No, it’s not a reproductive upgrade for your uber-1337 gaming PC. Instead, it’s a way of increasing the odds of success for in-vitro fertilization:

“The new device allows embryos created in the lab to be incubated inside a perforated silicon container inserted into a woman’s own womb. After a few days, the capsule is recovered and some embryos are selected for implantation in the womb.

Embryos incubated in the lab must have their growth medium changed every few hours to provide new nutrients and get rid of waste. The new device provides a more natural environment.”

So, while technology is an adjunct to biology in matters reproductive, the body still knows best. I wonder if we’ll ever be able to simulate biological processes that are effectively identical to the real thing ? Perhaps some new form of Sir Arthur C Clarke’s aphorism comes into effect – “any sufficiently advanced biotechnology is indistinguishable from life” … [image by aturkus]