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Discussion on Human Reproduction

Cho: In this session on the ethical issues of human reproduction we have three speakers. The first is a paper from Baoqi Su and Darryl Macer.

Daniels: Are there any questions for Baoqi?

Ko: Could you tell us some causes and criteria of these diseases of serious nature in the Eugenics law in China? Please give us some examples. What is the boundary?

Su: I asked some experts about this. There are some guidelines specifically detailing criteria such as Down Syndrome and other physical disabilities. How about in Korea? What are your criteria?

Ko: I am concerned that if there are no clear-cut definitions of diseases of serious nature, then the boundary can be easily broadened. If left-handedness is a criteria or colour blindness, people may broaden the criteria. It is dangerous.

Su: It is also a problem in China because in different people's minds there are differences. We have no national definition, just local standards. In Beijing the criteria may be different to others. But I'm not sure and think some experts here could share information.

Yang: Maybe we could ask Professor Li Benfu on the clinical standards, in Chinese.

Li (translated by Yang): We have a list of serious diseases. The Ministry of Health has a list.

Doering: I can give some comments. The law was discussed in the International Congress of Human Genetics in 1998 in Beijing, because of the concern about eugenics. They have a big problem with definitions, with finding the scientific basis. But more importantly, politically important persons have said that the law is not being applied into practice. So the practical role of this law is weak. We should not treat this law as if it is being applied everyday already.

Qiu: The original name of the law is Eugenics Law. The Chinese "Yousheng" has two meanings, one is healthy birth and the other is like social eugenics of Nazis. In 1994 when the law was drafted a news agency immediately published an article labeling it as a Eugenics Law. This led to a very strong reaction from many foreign colleagues, and even Ministers. There was much reaction, like we will stop cooperation with you. Many articles in the law are good. Only two articles are of concern, Article 10 is about diseases of serious nature. When I talked to the Minister of Health I asked him what is a disease of serious nature? We can gradually think of a few but when geneticists were consulted they said that they couldn't decide. The second opinion we said was that the couple should decide. We cannot just say so in a law. Informed consent is important. In 1998 at the time of the Congress of Human Genetics it was vague. This year the Minister of Health has said that we should get the consent from couples on how to implement the law.

Daniels: We have time for a closing comment from the speaker.

Su: There is a book on Eugenics Science in China, and it gives a list of diseases that are said to be of serious nature. But the terms are medical terms so I can't explain to you here now but I could send you the list.

Daniels: Thank you, and we will move to the next speaker, Majdah Zawawi from Malaysia.

Daniels: Are there any questions?

Singer: The argument about prejudicing the rights of the child, which seems to be the major non-religious argument that you put up in this paper. I find it very puzzling since the child would not exist unless there was no surrogacy arrangement. Whatever psychological hardship there is said to be, it is because of the child being born in a surrogate arrangement. As you said yourself, there is no empirical evidence that the child is going to be happy. But surely it is not so serious that it would be better for the child if the child had never existed. So I really can't see how it's helping the child to have non-existence.

Zawawi: So the question is whether it is better for a person to exist or not exist. Well, we don't know. It is not something with definite answers. Maybe the child will grow up to be a junkie. My point is that even though one wants to exert their rights to have children, they cannot put other people's rights in jeopardy just because you want to fulfill your needs of having a child.

Cho: The last speaker is this session is Dong-Ryul Choo from Korea.

Daniels: I am afraid there is no time so please direct questions to Dr. Choo in the break.

Closing session

Koo: I am honored to be the chair of this closing session. There were four speakers in the closing session and their talks are written as follows. I showed a series of still photographs taken during the conference to refresh our memory. The closing remarks were delivered by Prof. Qui, duly elected ABA president. This conference concludes with closing remarks from Professor Sang-yong Song.

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