Doctors, bioethicists question rule change on embryo experimentation

Jun 15, 2021 by

On May 26, the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) issued new guidelines which called for lifting the prohibition against growing lab-created embryos beyond 14 days of development. Although these guidelines are not, and never have been, legally binding in and of themselves, they have nonetheless served as a rein on what scientists are allowed to do, preventing research and experimentation on embryos older than 14 days. Some countries, such as Canada and the United Kingdom, have legal restrictions in place against such experimentation; however, the United States and China, which have been the sites of the most disturbing recent experiments involving human-monkey chimeras and so-called “blastoids” or “model embryos,” do not have any such legal restrictions.

The call to abandon this 14-day rule has sparked concern among some doctors and bioethicists. David Albert Jones, head of the Oxford-based Anscombe Bioethics Centre, has raised concerns about the move, and about the slow erosion of restrictions on human embryo experimentation in general. His official statement identified five original assurances given to the public when the UK legalized such experimentation in 1990:

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