Thursday, December 21, 2006

Assisted conception | Buying babies, bit by bit |

Assisted conception | Buying babies, bit by bit | "IVF was originally intended to allow heterosexual couples to bypass problems with fallopian tubes or sperm by introducing eggs and sperm to each other in a petri dish. But demand has mushroomed among those with other medical problems as well as the single and gay. They need people to supply them with sperm, eggs and sometimes wombs; and the services of clinics who put the lot together.

Since the manufacturing of anything which is regarded as God-given—or at least natural—touches a moral nerve, governments tend to want to regulate the business. And because attitudes to the family vary from country to country, regulations about baby-making do too. Discerning baby-shoppers therefore assemble inputs from around the world—sperm from Denmark, an egg from Russia, a surrogate mother from California—to ensure that biology, for them, need not mean destiny. Some even switch countries midway through treatment, starting in Britain, say, and travelling to Russia, Spain or America at a crucial stage in the proceedings."

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