Ethics and Law in Embryology in Context
To those of us who are not embryologists, can I merely say that what you do, as her Honour put it, is to create miracles? What you do is magical. It is simply extraordinary that an egg can be extracted safely, then inspected under powerful microscopes, then trimmed and then fertilised (whether through standard IVF or through ICSI) and then when the embryo has been determined to have reached the right level of cell division, either 3 or 5 days, then carefully frozen.
It is even more miraculous in my view that once the embryo is removed out of the liquid nitrogen in which it has sat for however many months, it is then, through an extraordinarily complex process, properly thawed and hatched until it is ready to be implanted in the cervix of a woman so that she can become pregnant, either for herself or someone else.
Each of these parts is in itself fascinating, and put together results in, as her Honour put it, a miracle of modern medicine.
It is an extraordinarily powerful thing to create life. Each and every one of you should be extremely proud of your abilities to do so.
However, as Alexander Pope said 400 years ago: “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” It is absolutely essential that with this enormous power to create life that there are laws and ethical requirements.
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