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Abstract

The case of R. (Quintavalle) v. Human Fertilisation Embryology Authority (and Secretary of State for Health) presents a handful of legal problems. The biggest legal query to arise from the case is the inevitable harvest of babies, toddlers and very young children for their bone marrow. This article unpacks the judicial story behind Quintavalle to reveal how the strict provisions of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 - namely ‘suitable condition’ under schedule 2 paragraph 1(1)(a) and ‘treatment services’ and ‘assisting’ under section 2(1) - were widely misinterpreted to introduce the social selection of embryos into law. The legal loopholes created by the judgment (embryo wastage, welfare, eugenics and the legality of child harvest in particular) are also identified. It will be concluded that screening for a tissue match is social selection despite arguments to the contrary and that parents are not yet entitled in law to harvest a very young child for bone marrow, making the creation of a saviour sibling under the 1990 Act as a result of Quintavalle ultimately futile.