Podcast: Bioethics and Europe’s brave new world of “designer” babies

In this podcast, European patient organisation representative Cor Oosterwijk, discusses the vexed question of how new genetic technologies should be used in human reproduction.

Cor Oosterwijk (photo), Secretary General of the Patients Network for Medical research and Health (EGAN), and the father of a child with Down Syndrome, argues against a ban on germline editing and says parents must be given a choice.

“If there is no choice, then you cannot defend what happens in your life,” he says. “Let us trust ourselves. and make the public aware about what is going on, what are the facts and not what are the fears.”

Advances in genetic science and medicine (pronuclear transfer technology and maternal spindle transfer) have enabled some parents to avoid passing on their genetic diseases to children.

In 2015, the United Kingdom became the first country in the world to allow babies to be born as a result of pronuclear transfer technology. This procedure, banned in the United States of America, also led to the recent birth of a child in Ukraine.

Ethical and human rights concerns have subjected these developments to greater scrutiny and political disquiet was in evidence yesterday (24 January) at a Parliamentary Assembly exchange of views on the use of new genetic technologies in human beings.

The Essential

Information: human rights and bioethics

Treaty: Council of Europe’s Oviedo Convention

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