New official figures indicate that close to 2.5 million embryos have been discarded in the UK since IVF was brought under a comprehensive regulatory framework in 1991.
The figures were released by Lord Prior of Brampton, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, in response to a written question from Lord Alton of Liverpool.
The records of the UK's fertility watchdog, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. show that 1,687,260 embryos have been transferred to uteri since 1991, and 2,315,262 destroyed.
In the period from 1 July 2014 – 30 June 2015, 84,044 were transferred, and 172,184 destroyed. The figures come as UK fertility clinics celebrate 250,000 babies born by IVF in the country.
With an increase in IVF success rates, fertility specialists say that more women in the UK are using assisted reproductive technology. In 1991, 6,146 women received 6,609 IVF treatments, resulting in 1,226 live births. By 2013 this had risen to 52,288 women receiving 67,708 cycles of IVF, from which 15,283 babies were born.
There is quite a bit of literature in bioethics journals about the ethics of telling white lies to patients, especially with terminally ill patients. But a far more common ethical conundrum has been strangely neglected: whether children should be told the truth about Santa Claus. This, thankfully, has been remedied. Two psychologists have written an article in The Lancet Psychiatry arguing that children’s moral compass could be permanently deranged by the disappointment of learning that their parents have been telling them lies.
Kathy McKay, a clinical psychologist at the University of New England, Australia and a co-author, told The Guardian: “The Santa myth is such an involved lie, such a long-lasting one, between parents and children, that if a relationship is vulnerable, this may be the final straw. If parents can lie so convincingly and over such a long time, what else can they lie about?”
The psychologists follow in the footsteps of Richard Dawkins, who saw through the myth of Santa Claus at the tender age of 21 months. He told a conference in 2014: “Is it a good thing to go along with the fantasies of childhood, magical as they are? Or should we be fostering a spirit of scepticism? I think it's rather pernicious to inculcate into a child a view of the world which includes supernaturalism.”
We’d like to open up comments on BioEdge to a discussion of this issue.
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