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As IVF Debate Rages in Poland, Doctors Propose Ethical, Natural, More Effective Alternative

Fertility Clinics in California, Louisiana Face Lawsuits Over Destroying Embryos

Genetic Engineering: U.S. Company Now Offers "Look-Alike" Celebrity Sperm…



As IVF Debate Rages in Poland, Doctors Propose Ethical, Natural, More Effective Alternative
As the debate over in vitro fertilization (IVF) rages in the Polish parliament, hundreds of doctors and medical professionals have written an open letter to Polish Parliamentarians urging them to vote against legalizing IVF and opt instead for a more successful, safer, natural treatment for fertility problems. 

Although IVF is not officially legal in Poland, it has nonetheless been practiced for years in the nation. 

Several Parliamentary proposals have been brought forward to legalize the practice under the guise of regulating the already occurring procedures.  The proposals range from taxpayer funding for all IVF treatments without restriction, including for lesbians, and another that would ban creation of human embryos outside the mother's body.

Parliamentarians have ignored a grassroots initiative proposing a complete ban on IVF signed by 160,000 citizens.

The open letter from medical professionals was published in the major daily paper Rzeczpospolita. 

It followed on the heels of a conference on the most advanced natural techniques to combat infertility known as NaProTechnology that was held two weeks ago in Poland and attended by hundreds of doctors and medical professionals.

In the letter, doctors urge parliamentarians to vote against IVF, and to consider NaProTechnology, which they describe as "a diagnostic-therapeutical method," which "constitutes a cheap, realistic, healthy and wholly ethical alternative to artificial reproduction."

The letter marks the first in Poland from scholars and medical professionals openly condemning IVF. 

"We would like to emphasize the fact that contrary to NaProTechnology, artificial fertilization entails risk of embryo death, miscarriage and multiple pregnancies oftentimes resulting in premature births," warns the letter. "IVF also incurs increased risk of fetal abnormalities and of health issues for the woman undergoing ovarian hyperstimulation."

In summary, they said, "IVF is an expensive, less effective, controversial method that entails serious health risks."
[29Sept09, Warsaw, Poland, John-Henry Westen]

Fertility Clinics in California, Louisiana Face Lawsuits Over Destroying Embryos
  Fertility clinics in Louisiana and California are facing lawsuits over their destruction or mishandling of human embryos — the unique human beings waiting to be born. The lawsuits highlight the problems of fertility clinics having such a direct control over the life and death of people in their earliest days.

In New Orleans, Ochsner Hospital has admitted to mishandling human embryos that were eventually destroyed or for which they can't account.

Lawyers for as many as 100 clients say they have already filed or will be filing lawsuits against the medical center.

"My clients have struggled with this travesty for the last year," Melanie Lagarde, an attorney for Kim and Abraham Whitney, who lost four embryos in the mix-ups, told CBS News. "They want to know what happened to these embryos."

Despite supposed safeguards, Ochsner has admitted that some human beings were destroyed and others are missing and its fertility clinic can't determine their whereabouts.

"We are disappointed in ourselves," Dr. Patrick Quinlan, said the CEO of Ochsner Health System, told CBS News.

But he claims no parents went home with the wrong baby, unlike what happened in one case that has drawn national attention.

Ochsner has suspended its in vitro program indefinitely pending a complete review and is offering free DNA testing to any client who wants that done to verify that their embryo is safe and sound.

Meanwhile, a couple in California has sued a San Francisco fertility clinic for destroying human embryos that were inseminated with the wife's eggs and another man's sperm.

Robert and Katie Aschero have sued Laurel Fertility Care saying it inseminated seven human embryos using the wrong sperm instead of Robert's, according to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper. The suit alleges the mistake violated the contract the Ascheros took out with the center.

Katie Aschero said she learned seven of 13 viable embryos (unborn children) were inseminated with another man's sperm and the clinic staff destroyed them even though the couple's contract with the clinic specified embryos not be destroyed.

Three of the six correctly inseminated with Robert Aschero's sperm were implanted but the pregnancy was not successful.

"They were contractually obligated to keep them," the couple's attorney Nancy Hersh said. "In addition to making the mistake, she learned they were destroyed and that caused additional distress."

Katie Aschero said she doesn't know if she would have used the incorrectly inseminated embryos, but would have appreciated a chance to donate them to couples who want children.

The suit names three specialists, Dr. Lee-Chuan Kao, Dr. Collin Smikle and Marlane Angle, the in vitro laboratory director as well as the clinic itself. No one from the clinic would comment, nor would their attorney David Lucchese, the Chronicle said.

The case that has received the most attention involves an Ohio fertility clinic that gave a mother the wrong unborn child.

The case involves Sean and Carolyn Savage, an Ohio couple, who had hoped and struggled for one more child from in vitro fertilization.

When the doctor's call came, however, Sean was in "total shock" as they were told from fertility clinic staff that the fertility clinic had implanted another couple's embryos into Carolyn's womb.

The couple decided against having an abortion.

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) supposedly has "a series of strong protocol recommendations" for clinics, but Dr. David Prentice of the Family Research Council says they are merely recommendations.

"This is an entirely unregulated industry, a business. It's the same manufacturing industry that brought us the 'Octomom' and 'egg brokers,' treating babies and women's bodies and eggs as commodities," the former Indiana State University biology professor says.

"Maybe it's about time we took a harder look at the whole idea of cavalierly creating life in the lab," he added. "The fertility industry oversees itself."
[September 29, 2009, Washington, DC,]



Genetic Engineering: U.S. Company Now Offers Look-Alike Celebrity Sperm
 Anyone who has ever wondered what it would be like to have a baby whose genes come from someone who looks like a ce

lebrity can now have their wish fulfilled. That's thanks to a company that is coming under fire for offering sperm from people who may resemble your favorite celebrity.

A California-based fertility company called Cryobank is offering prospective parents a range of celebrity look-a-like sperm donors.

The firm, which will soon open an office in New York, allows customers to search through a database according to characteristics such as ethnicity and eye color without revealing donors' photographs.

But its consultation services that have staff assuring customers that their child will be born with genes form someone looking like David Beckham or Brad Pitt are proving popular.

"Have you ever wondered if your favorite donor looks like anyone famous? You know how tall he is and his hair and eye color, but wouldn't it be great to have an idea of what he really look like? Now you can find out with a click of your mouse," the company's website says.

Scott Browne, a spokesman for Cryobank, told BioNews, "The intention is not to suggest the child will look like one of the celebrities. It's just to personalize the donor."

"I think in their heads they know the medical history is most important, but ultimately we're all interested in what someone looks like. It's what we do when we're dating or meet someone. I didn't ask my wife her medical history before I decided to marry her," he added.

Potential sperm donors are require to give medical background but also undergo an analysis which helps determine which celebrity they most closely resemble.

"'There's a lot that goes into it," he told BioNews. "It's not just sitting in a room deciding who looks like Ben Affleck, what sounded really easy got complicated when we realized that people see people in completely different ways."

"So we're very concerned about misleading clients. One rule we made was that a donor never gets just one celeb. And one of our representatives can always get on the phone and explain," he added.

Bioethicist Wesley J. Smith says he has concerns about genetic engineering and the look-alike process could easily be assigned to that category.

"The biotech agenda has never been about stem cell research. That is only a stage," he says.

"The ultimate agenda is Brave New World, e.g. genetic engineering, reproductive cloning, post humanism, and anything goes," he adds.

"This has been hidden for political reasons, but with the hated Bush’s stem cell funding restrictions now defunct, we are beginning to see the truth in advertising."

[September 28, 2009, Washington, DC, Ertelt, ]