Creating 'saviour siblings' : the notion of harming by conceiving in the context of healthy children

Smith, Malcolm K. (2012) Creating 'saviour siblings' : the notion of harming by conceiving in the context of healthy children. In Selective Reproductive Technologies : Routes of Routinisation and Globalisation, 13-15 December 2012, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen. (Unpublished)


Over the past decade there have been a number of families who have utilised assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) to create a tissue-matched child, with the purpose of using the child’s tissue to cure an existing sick child. This inevitably brings such families a sense of hope as the ultimate aim is to overcome a family health crisis. However, this specific use of reproductive technologies has been the subject of significant criticism, most of which is levelled against the potential harm to the ‘saviour’ child. In Australia, families seeking to access reproductive technologies in this context are therefore required to justify their motives to an ethics committee in order to establish, amongst other things, whether the child will suffer harm once born.

This paper explores the concept of harm in the context of conception, focusing on whether it is possible to ‘harm’ a healthy child who has been conceived to save another. To achieve this, the paper will evaluate the impact of the ‘non-identity’ principle in the ‘saviour sibling’ context, and assess the existing body of literature which addresses ‘harm’ in the context of conception. As will be established, the majority of such literature has focused on ‘wrongful life’ cases which seek to address whether an existing child who has been born with a disability, has been harmed. Finally, this paper will distinguish the harm arguments in the ‘saviour sibling’ context based on the fact that the harm evaluation concerns the ‘future-life’ assessment of a healthy child.

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ID Code: 57966
Item Type: Conference Item (Presentation)
Refereed: No
Keywords: Assisted reproductive technologies, ART, Saviour siblings, Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, PGD, Pre-implantation tissue-typing, Harm Principle
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > OTHER LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (189900) > Law and Legal Studies not elsewhere classified (189999)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Research Centres > Australian Centre for Health Law Research
Current > Schools > School of Law
Deposited On: 10 Mar 2013 22:33
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2015 04:46

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