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Fertility conference 2001 Tuesday, 3 July, 2001, 12:38 GMT 13:38 UK
Fertility abuses blasted
IVF
There are fears that IVF techniques are being abused
The entire future of fertility treatments could be endangered by a handful of doctors prepared to take on ethically dubious cases, says a leading expert.

Professor Hans Evers, the incoming president of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, said that some "irresponsible individuals" were prepared to abuse the latest techniques by helping patients rejected as unsuitable elsewhere.


The future of reproductive medicine will be jeopardized by these so-called doctors

Professor Hans Evers
He cited the recent case of the 62-year-old woman from France who gave birth to her own nephew, and a declaration by some doctors that they intend to clone a human being as soon as they can.

In the case of the 62-year-old, the US doctor involved said that he was deceived by the patients involved, believing that the woman and her brother - the biological father - were husband and wife, and that she was much younger.

However, Professor Evers said: "I'm very sad that these things have been happening - it is nothing more than blatant abuse of reproductive medicine.

"The future of reproductive medicine will be jeopardized by these so-called doctors and scientists, who are stepping outside the boundaries of normal ethics."

The situation could lead, he said, to governments introducing strict new laws against such abuses which also prevented genuinely deserving patients from receiving the treatment which could give them a desperately-wanted child.

"At the moment we still maintain the goodwill of the majority of the public who trust us and rely on us to use the new techniques to help them.

New laws

"There is a danger that the voluntary controls we willingly subscribe to will be replaced by stronger and stronger legislation."

Technologies have been constantly evolving since the early breakthroughs of the 1970s, and several proposed techniques involve cloning-style techniques to create human embryos.

In addition, the refinement of fertility procedures and methods mean that it is theoretically possible to offer treatment to much older women.

It was widely predicted that as soon as the first animal clones were successfully produced, the race would be on to use the technology to produce a human, and several teams have expressed an interest, although the vast majority of doctors condemn the moves.

ESHRE's itself has a voluntary moratorium on human reproductive cloning, in place since 1999, and re-iterated its firm opposition in a statement issued in March this year.

See also:

21 Jun 01 | Health
22 Jan 01 | Health
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