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Friday, 12 July, 2002, 15:59 GMT 16:59 UK
Pro-life challenge to embryo testing
Hashmi family
The Hashmis want to help their son Zain
A pro-life campaigner has been given the go-ahead for a legal challenge to the selection of test-tube embryos to provide a match for a sick sibling.

Josephine Quintavalle may now launch a High Court battle over the decision to help a family desperate to have a "designer baby".

Giving leave for the case, Mr Justice Crane, sitting in London, said: "In my view there is an arguable basis for granting permission."

Ms Quintavalle was acting on behalf of the public interest group Comment on Reproductive Ethics (Core).

The group claims that the Human Reproduction and Embryology Authority had no right to give a clinic in Nottingham the green light to carry out the treatment.

Bone marrow

The clinic was asked by Raj and Shahana Hashmi to help because their son Zain has thalassaemia, a potentially deadly blood disorder.

He needs a bone marrow transplant, but no suitable donor can be found.

Cells in the umbilical cord of a genetically-matched sibling would be able to provide this.

All IVF treatments involve trying to fertilise a number of eggs taken from a woman.

This may result in several embryos - in normal circumstances, only the one or two which developed most strongly would be placed back in her body and the rest would be either frozen or discarded.

No match

The "tissue typing" technique in this case involves additionally testing the embryos to rule out those which are not a match for the existing child.

The HFEA gave the clinic permission to go ahead in February, and it was understood that the couple were planning to begin treatment as soon as possible.

While in general, it is in favour of embryo testing for this purpose, it says that each case will be considered on its individual merits.

Ms Quintavalle says that the new technique is a dangerous first step towards allowing parents to use embryo testing to choose other characteristics of the baby, such as eye colour and sex.

The HFEA already favours genetic testing of embryos to ensure that certain serious gene defects are not passed on.

It has also agreed in principle to chromosome testing of embryos to try to reduce the risk of miscarriage following IVF.

See also:

22 Feb 02 | Health
12 Dec 01 | Health
22 Feb 02 | Health
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