Government backs artificial sperm use

MPs back legislation to use artificial sperm

The Government is planning to change the law to allow babies to be conceived from artificial sperm.

The controversial legislation has already prompted opposition with claims the law is playing God with human DNA.

Roman Catholic Cabinet ministers and Labour backbenchers are among dozens who could vote against the imminent Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. Currently the law allows artificial ‘gametes’ in research, but there is a complete ban on their use in creating a human pregnancy.

The new technique would allow scientists to take embryonic cells from a potential parent and grow them into sperm in a lab.

The move would permit those suffering with cancer who have been made infertile by treatment, and women who are unable to produce their own eggs, to have children who are related to them genetically.

So far, scientists have created pregnancies in mice only, however it could be at least a decade before the technology is possible in humans.

Liberal Democrat spokesman, Evan Harris, commented: ‘There is no good explanation for not allowing this option for people who have survived cancer and cannot have children.’

The public health minister supported the legislation to improve the lack of sperm donors but admitted there were ‘profound ethical questions’.

Gordon Brown has supported the technology, believing it is crucial in the fight against diseases including cystic fibrosis.

The Bill will also alter the fertility laws so that clinics will no longer consider the ‘need for a father’ before offering IVF treatment, meaning lesbian couples could be registered as legal parents.

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