From Sex Without Babies To Babies Without Sex

The birth of more than 2,000 babies by extracorporeal fertilization and uterine transfer of cleaving embryos has made human embryos the tools of baby manufacturing. It has led to the opening of in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics in greater numbers and seems to have encouraged more research on human embryos to improve the success rate of IVF procedures. This has resulted in the storage of excess embryos by freeze-thaw techniques and has paved the way for research on embryos as young as 14 days.

By | February 23, 1987

The birth of more than 2,000 babies by extracorporeal fertilization and uterine transfer of cleaving embryos has made human embryos the tools of baby manufacturing. It has led to the opening of in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics in greater numbers and seems to have encouraged more research on human embryos to improve the success rate of IVF procedures. This has resulted in the storage of excess embryos by freeze-thaw techniques and has paved the way for research on embryos as young as 14 days.

In an era of such artificial methods of reproduction, "high-tech" baby manufacturing seems to have become another flourishing industry. The institution of fetal cell therapy, the shortage of donor organs for transplantation, and the craze for pre-selection of the sex of developing fetuses may further encourage research on human embryos that may end up in eugenic manipulation, inter-species fertilization, or the growing of fetuses to the stage of organ development for transplantation.

The recent restrictions imposed by the Council of Europe on such activities (The Scientist, October 20, 1986, p. 8) indirectly support the possibility of such abuse. Apart from being judged on sound scientific understanding, human embryo research must be governed by elements of human belief, values and social factors.

The human embryo bears the blueprint of human life. Research must not threaten that future life. One can create babies through such methods, but one cannot instill emotions and a sense of belonging—the emotions that make life humane and liveable in today's mechanized world.

The contraceptive technology of the past decade made it possible to have sex without babies. Artificial methods of reproduction today make it possible to have babies without sex. Let's make sure they do not lead to the creation of a human race that will wipe out the nobility of parenthood.

—D.S. Sheriff
Dept. of Biochemistry
Al Arab Medical University
P.O. Box 7025
Benghazi, Libya

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