THE LONG-AWAITED report Ibe Wayneek Colanokitee, The government inquiry into human fertilisation and embryology, was expected to be received at the Department of Health and Social Security this week, a spokesman for the department said.
The report, which was commissioned in 1982, will not be published for some weeks after it is received in the Department, the spokesman added.
But details are now available of submissions to the committee which was established under the chairmanship of Oxford philosophy don, Mary Warnock, to consider the ethical problems associated with recent advances in fertilisation techniques. The major issue of concern to the "pro-life" groups is the potential abuse for research purposes of in vitro or "test tube" fertilisation methods.
The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has called for a complete ban on all experiments on human embryos, and it reveals that at present there appears to be no legal bar
In a counsel's opinion, which forms a part of the society's submission, Mr Gerard Wright QC, says that although there are tentative grounds for thinking that it might be possible to revive an ancient common law offence of abortion to protect foetuses outside the womb (even though modern anti-abortion laws would not be effective), this would only be effective in cases of deliberate killing and would not prevent a scientist from allowing an embryo conceived in vitro to die.
Furthermore SPUC presents evidence from Professor Jerome Lejeune, the eminent geneticist who was responsible for identifying the cause of Down's syndrome, to the effect that genetic research does not require recourse to the manipulation of human embryos.
The organisation Life also calls for a complete ban on the use of in vitro fertilisation, except in those cases where the intention is to provide individually fertilised ova for genuinely infertile donor couples. There submission appeals for a restoration of "the traditional respect for human life which in the past guided, or was at least claimed to guide, medical research".