ETHICS, EMBRYOS, AND EVIDENCE: A LOOK BACK AT WARNOCK

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Abstract

The Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Human Fertilisation and Embryology, the Warnock Report, forms the basis of the UK legislation on embryo research, and its influence continues to be felt, even though over 30 years have passed since its publication. The Warnock Committee was the first of its kind to consider how advancements in human fertilisation and embryology should be regulated. This article examines the evidence submitted to the Warnock Committee, upon which its members ultimately reached their conclusions. With ongoing debate as to the status of the human embryo, it is important to recognise that the legislative position is one that was reached after extensive consultation and consideration of submitted evidence by the Warnock Committee. This article considers the differing ethical viewpoints that were expressed by organisations both prior and post-publication of the Warnock Report, and how the Committee used that evidence to reach their conclusions, and ultimately calls for a new Warnock-style committee.

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