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Assisted reproductive technological blunders (ARTBs)
  1. John Harris
  1. Institute of Medicine, Law and Bioethics, School of Law, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK;

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    When things go wrong with assisted reproduction we should look at what’s best for everyone in the particular circumstances

    A RTBs, as we must now call them, are becoming more and more frequent. In the recent United Kingdom case (discussed in April JME1–3) Mr and Mrs A, a “white” couple, gave birth to twins described as “black”. The mix up apparently occurred because a Mr and Mrs B, a “black” couple, were being treated in the same clinic and Mrs A’s eggs were fertilised with Mr B’s sperm. Mr and Mrs A love the twins and wish to keep them and the facts seem to be that Mrs A is the genetic mother of the twins but her partner is not the genetic father. Under English law, in assisted reproduction, the woman who gives birth to the child is the legal mother and this is true also in cases of surrogacy. I think there is no doubt in this case that English law has taken the right path and that it would be unconscionable to contemplate taking a child away from the woman who had undergone the risks and pains of pregnancy and childbirth and the bonding process that goes along with that when she wishes to keep the child particularly when there is no substantial and pressing evidence that she would be an unsafe parent. I argued this in my book The Value of Life4 and I think it is still true. So in this case justice, morality, and decency are served by confirming Mr and Mrs A as the parents of the children. Since in English law there is some ambiguity over paternity and how that is to be assigned and since Mr A is apparently not the genetic father, I think it is important …

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