Medicopolitical Digest

BMA says fetal tissue should not be used for treatment

BMJ 1994; 308 doi: (Published 21 May 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:1375
  1. L Beecham

    Fetal oocytes and ovarian tissues should not be used for treatment purposes, the BMA says, mainly because of the potential risk of genetic and other abnormality to the resulting children. It might review the position if research shows that the material could be used safely. The BMA accepts, however, the use of fetal material for research but reaffirms that it would be unethical for abortion procedures to be altered in order to retrieve suitable fetal material.

    The association was responding to the consultation document, Donated Ovarian Tissue in Embryo Research and Assisted Conception, from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) (BMJ 1994;308:153).

    The BMA supports the principle of egg donation for research and treatment. In view of the current shortage of donated eggs ways should be found to increase the supply. The association commends the HFEA's decision to examine the question of payment and inducements to donate gametes in the light of the reports that a private fertility clinic had offered a woman free fertility treatment in exchange for some of her eggs.

    In its response the BMA emphasises that donated eggs or ovarian tissue should not be used for treatment purposes unless high standards of appropriate testing could be guaranteed for genetically inherited diseases and infections such as HIV.

    There is support in principle for the use of eggs and ovarian tissue from cadavers for research or treatment for which the deceased person had given specific consent. Consent should be given using a specially designated donor card and it would be inappropriate for relatives to be able to veto a deceased woman's …

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