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Bishop alarmed by 'designer baby' IVF use

Sydney auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher has expressed disquiet following a fertile Tasmanian couple's use of in-vitro fertilisation technique to create a "designer baby" free from a likely inherited genetic disease.

Scientists a Sydney clinic developed a test to screen potential embryos to avoid an inherited disease known as hyper IgM syndrome. The anonymous couple's other child suffers from the disease. If the couple had conceived naturally they ran the risk of having their second baby born with the incurable genetic disease.

The scientists took 18 months to develop the embryo test, which has been cleared by the clinic's ethics committee.

But Bishop Fisher (pictured) told the Daily Telegraph that the technique is "different to using IVF for infertile couples who want to keep hold of as many embryos as possible".

"In this case you are making embryos and from the start you know that you are going to dispose of the ones that are not the right match," he said. "That raises concerns for us and for other people in the community who question whether we should be designing aspects of children."

Bishop Fisher is the founding director of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family in Melbourne.

He said there are ethical problems with using science to design any aspect of a child.

"We would question whether children should be created to provide something for someone else - that the children are a means to an end," he said.

"I am not saying that these parents are not loving people or that the doctors do not have good intentions, but children should be seen as a gift in whatever form they come.

"I have a lot of problems with the IVF industry generally. This is in some ways a more troubling development."

Don't judge us for loving our sick little boy (Daily Telegraph 8/3/04)

Bishop says gay marriage advocates flattering "real" marriage (CathNews 3/3/04)
Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP DD VG
John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family

8 Mar 2004