Assisted contraception
in Medicine, patients and the law (sixth edition)
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The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 (as amended) and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority regulate reproductive technologies. Neither has escaped criticism. Tough questions surround issues of access to treatment. The law has struggled with the meaning of ‘father’ and ‘mother’. The first ‘test tube’ IVF baby was born in 1978. Since then, reproductive technologies have advanced considerably. Many generate moral controversy. Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) involves screening embryos to avoid implanting embryos with a defective gene. The technology has led to the creation of ‘saviour siblings’ where parents whose child is afflicted by a potentially fatal genetic disorder can seek to have another baby whose stem cells, taken from her umbilical cord, could ‘cure’ her brother or sister. Surrogacy remains a difficult issue, particularly around the question of payment.

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