Saturday, January 27, 2007

If not the FDA, who?

Brought to our attention by R. Alta Charo:

January 24, 2007
FDA: Embryo Broker Not Our Problem

Filed at 1:46 p.m. ET

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- The Food and Drug Administration has ended an investigation into a broker offering ready-made embryos to prospective parents, concluding the agency had no jurisdiction. The FDA has not disclosed what laws or regulations were the focus of the investigation into Jennalee Ryan's Abraham Center of Life. The agency's statement Wednesday said ''the investigation determined the facility was not currently engaged in practices that fall under FDA jurisdiction.''

Ryan's service involves a physician who uses donated eggs and sperm to create embryos that cost $5,000 a pair. Clients can review the donors' characteristics, including their ethnic and educational background and, in some cases, their photos. Some critics have said Ryan's business may be crossing ethical lines by marketing a better baby. But Ryan said she's just trying to help couples or single women, for example, who may not be able to have a biological baby.

My question is, if not the FDA, who does have jurisdiction over these thorny ethical questions? See our bioethics bookclub series on "designer babies" for ideas on how to consider the policy implications of our free market baby industry.

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