This cannot be right!

This is not new news but a research grant that was awarded in February 2012 has just been brought to my attention and it makes me furious.  Rosamund Scott, Professor of Law and Ethics at Kings College London University and Stephen Wilkinson, Professor of BioEthics at Keele University have jointly been awarded by the Wellcome Trust a sum of around £900,000 over five years for a study into The Donation and Transfer of Human Reproductive Materials. Their remit is –

  • Who should be allowed to donate what to whom?
  • Should people be paid (and, if so, how much) for donating eggs and sperm?
  • What is the right regulatory response to the fact that people are seeking treatment with donated materials overseas (e.g. because of shortages in the UK)?
  • How should we take into account the welfare of as yet non-existent children, those who may be created by acts of donation?

I’m not saying these are not important topics…they undoubtedly are, but at a time when Uk Donor Link and the National Gamete Donation Trust are being made to battle it out for the measly sums it takes to run their important – in the case of UKDL unique and vital services,  nearly a million quid on the ethics of issues that have either recently been debated by government (updating of the HFEA Act, the HFEA in it’s ‘consultation’ on donation, including the issue of compensation/payment) or currently by the Nuffield Council on Bio-Ethics (Rosamund Scott being one of the people involved), is outrageous.

Also, just think how many Preparation for Donor Conception Parenthood courses DC Network could run for this sort of money.  Just think how many would-be parents they would be able to influence to consider more deeply the impact of going abroad for donation and encourage to share information with their children.  What could do more good than that?  I despair!


About oliviasview

Co-founder and now Practice Consultant at Donor Conception Network. Mother to two donor conceived adults and a son conceived without help in my first marriage.
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2 Responses to This cannot be right!

  1. alloallo says:

    Hi Olivia – while I appreciate that this is a huge amount of money that could be spent on providing direct services, I also think it’s great that there’s money for robust research into these issues rather than government consultations that are often really cursory, on a limited scope of issues, and normally a bit about confirming previous assumptions rather than opening out the discussion (as you’ve noted before). The Wellcome Trust doesn’t fund direct services of the kind you’re talking about, so it’s not really a question of competing funds. It seems like a great opportunity to reach out to these academics to maybe do some advocacy around the issues raised?

  2. oliviasview says:

    A lovely balanced comment alloallo, and of course you are right in so many ways. My post reflects an immediate gut reaction. I am aware that the WT does not fund direct services and perhaps the research will be helpful…although no guarantee whatsoever that results will influence policy, which is nearly always driven financially and politically rather than by ethical principles. My difficulty with this is that we already know an awful lot about what is in the best interests of the children and more money invested in direct services (such as Preparation for DC Parenthood workshops) could make a real difference to the lives of children being conceived NOW.

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