Position of making a judgement

This essay aims to look at both sides of a subject much in the news at present. A couple have just won a court injunction which allows them to have their embryos genetically screened in order to select one that could help them save the life of their son. Whether the end justifies the means or not is a question many people will be asking themselves. Whether anybody has a right to select and reject any amount of fertilized embryos is a very sensitive subject.

On Tuesday 8th April 2003 a court made a landmark decision to allow a couple to filter their embryos by tissue typing in order to establish a match for their four year old son, Dyer & Wainwright (2003). They originally had permission to start this treatment in December 2001 from the human fertilisation and embryology authorisation but this was rescinded a year later when a judge ruled that the HFEA did not have the authority to give this approval. Now, three high court judges have overturned this verdict and the couple are due to recommence treatment to attain their goal.

The object of their search is to implant only embryos that match their son's tissue type. Should a live birth result from this treatment then blood would be taken from the baby's umbilical cord in the hope that it contained enough stem cells to help the brother. If this were not the case then the couple would have to apply to use the baby as a donor for a bone marrow transplant. A bone marrow transplant was the first option open to the family but, after four years of the boy's life, no suitable donor has been found. A persons best chance of a match is always a sibling as parents only share half the DNA of their children each.

However, there are still no guarantees of a true match, which is where the tissue typing comes in. The couple could have gone on having children until one came along that fitted their criteria but time would be against this as, the older the first child gets, the less chance the operation would have of being successful. Equally they could have continued as they are with the son having regular blood transfusions but how long this would be possible I am not sure. The problem comes in that, once an egg has been fertilised and becomes an embryo, it is a potential life.

To 'Filter it out' and then cease to preserve its life and encourage it's growth could be seen by some to be murder. To quote from the Bible: Deuteronomy (24. 16) www. biblegateway. com (2003) says "Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers, each is to die for their own sin. "This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live. " (Deuteronomy 30. 19) www. biblegateway. com (2003). To evaluate, these are powerful quotes, but who is to say how they are to be

interpreted in this situation? In conclusion, a difficult decision has had to be made as to whether a life should be nurtured solely to prolong another's. Nobody could relish being in the position of making a judgement that could become such a moral precedent. Nor could any relish being in a situation to need such a decision.


Dyer C, Wainwright M 2003 Court win for couple fighting to save son The Guardian Wednesday 9 April The Bible, (Deuteronomy 24. 16), (Deuteronomy 30. 19) [online]. Available from: http://www. biblegateway. com [Accessed 14 Apr 2003]