A fertility clinic in London has decided it is acceptable to offer IVF to a couple where the husband’s father, aged 72, will provide the sperm donation. Any child who was born as a result would be the half-brother or sister of the social father and the biological offspring of the social grandfather.
‘The instinctive feeling that this is not right is something to hold on to very firmly,’ said Josephine Quintavalle for Comment on Reproductive Ethics. ‘Were such a conception to take place under natural circumstances we would surely view it as a kind of incest. A woman simply doesn’t go to bed with her father-in-law with the approval of society. Just because conception occurs in a petri dish should not change our innate sense of what is right and what is wrong.
‘Dr Allan Pacey, of the British Fertility Society, has commented that the ethics do not bother him, only the safety issues. He expresses some reservations about the quality of sperm of a man in his 70s, which he is right to highlight. Men have biological clocks as well as women and sperm quality does deteriorate as they move into the later decades of life.
‘Dr Pacey would do well, however, to spare some serious thought for the psychological welfare of any child who might be born of such an unnatural conception. It is the offspring who so often bear the burden of the selfishness of adults, and it is hard to imagine how a child might feel on learning that it was conceived under these distorted circumstances.’
Contact: Josephine Quintavalle 07968 167 323