Fertility treatment involving IVF should be available on demand to couples and individuals who request it without regard to the welfare of any child born, a committee of MPs will say today.

Fertility treatment involving IVF should be available on demand to couples and individuals who request it without regard to the welfare of any child born, a committee of MPs will say today.

A 12-month investigation by the committee has concluded that parents should be allowed to choose the sex of their babies for family balancing, and research should be permitted on all forms of embryo, including chimeras formed from a mixture of human and animal tissue, up to 14 days. Calling for a major liberalising of fertility laws, the Commons Science and Technology Committee says that current laws are irrational, discriminatory and do not work. It suggests that objections to reproductive cloning - creating a cloned baby - have been based on "taboos rather than reasoned argument". A total prohibition can only be justified when arguments on the safety and ethical issues "have been properly articulated".

The report provoked immediate protests from both sides of the reproductive debate. Critics accused committee members of "extreme bias" and said they were wrong to abandon the existing precautionary approach.

The 10-member committee was split over the report, which opponents see as giving the green light to designer babies, with five members in support and five against. But at the final meeting on 14 March, attended by five members, the vote went four to one in favour of the report, with the chairman, Ian Gibson, adding his support.

Dr Gibson said: "No one can say this important report has not been thoroughly researched and considered. It sets some challenges for the Government and asks politicians and the public to justify any legislative prohibitions in arguments of principle with potential harms to be based on evidence rather than myth or prejudice." The Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris, who backed the report, said: "Some members of the committee don't agree with it but, if they had turned up and debated it, we might have had a different report."

A central tenet of current law is the requirement on IVF clinics to consider the welfare of the potential child before treatment is provided. This has led to treatment being refused to some single women, lesbian and gay couples and older women.

The report says the welfare-of-the-child principle is "impossible to implement and unjustifiably discriminates against the infertile" and should be abolished. Preventing harm to children could be better achieved by existing child protection measures, it says.

The report calls for abolition of the HFEA, which licenses IVF clinics, to be replaced by a regulator focused on maintaining technical and management standards.

David King, the director of Human Genetics Alert, said: "The kind of ethics we see in this report, which is incapable of saying a clear 'no' to anything, is no ethics at all.

"Social sex selection should not be allowed, because it turns children into consumer items and allows gender stereotypes to determine who gets born. It will throw the door to designer babies wide open."

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