Dr Deirdre Madden, a member of the Commission on Assisted Human Reproduction (CAHR), said she was “very disappointed” the Government has so far failed to implement any of the 40 recommendations contained in a report published by the commission five years ago. She said the 25-member commission believed it had produced “a very reasonable and workable report” and that there was “no point in burying heads in the sand”.
“The issues will not go away and people deserve clarity and we need to reach consensus. We elect people to take on that responsibility and to legislate for us,” said Dr Madden.
Medical practice in the field of infertility and human embryology has been loosely governed by ethical guidelines of the Irish Medical Council since 1989 but Dr Madden said “guidelines should not take the place of legislation”.
“In the absence of legislation, it’s open season really if anyone wanted to come in and work in this area. All you need is a licence from the Irish Medicines Board and once you comply with the terms of the licence, which are largely technical — there are no ethical boundaries — there is nothing to stop, say, cloning.”
Dr Madden, an expert in medical law and ethics, said it was an “ethically divisive” area but the state needed to set up an independent statutory regulatory body.