28 June 2022
ESHRE shares the outrage of ASRM and ACOG at the US Supreme Court’s ruling to allow states to outlaw termination of pregnancy.(1,2) As our US colleagues, ESHRE views the Court’s decision to overturn the constitutional right to safe abortion as an affront to the very principles of autonomy and equality in reproductive health.
In a statement ASRM President Marcelle Cedars said the ruling ‘removes an essential civil liberty that Americans have relied upon for nearly 50 years’. She described it as ‘unacceptable’ that personal decisions about reproductive health — whether, when, with whom or if, to have a child – are now ‘subject to the whims of politicians, and a vocal minority’. She vowed that ASRM and its members would ‘fight this battle in every state capital and in the halls of Congress’.
There are also fears that the ruling may have a restrictive effect on IVF, particularly in embryo selection and freezing and in preimplantation genetic testing. It has been suggested that some individual states in the USA, which now have the power to apply the court’s ruling to their own legislation, may extend protective rights to embryos.(3) Embryo protection legislation introduced in Italy in 2004 – known as Law 40 and formally opposed by ESHRE – outlawed embryo screening and freezing but was reversed over subsequent years by legal challenge. If, as the New England Journal of Medicine has asked, embryos are declared human at the moment of conception, ‘what will be the fate of abandoned embryos, of the people who “abandon” them, and more broadly of IVF centers in these jurisdictions?’.(4)
ESHRE supports the ASRM’s efforts to challenge the Supreme Court’s decision and its denial of a civil liberty which will put patient safety at risk and jeopardise health equality.
4. Lawmakers v. The Scientific Realities of Human Reproduction. New Eng J Med 2022; doi:10.1056/NEJMe2208288
10 March 2022
ESHRE is acknowledging the reproductive medical emergency in Ukraine. Fertility services could easily discontinue their elective ART treatments, and while patients find refuge, the safeguarding of all stored gametes and embryos can no longer be guaranteed in the light of rapidly unfolding events. Tens of thousands of infertile couples and individuals that have pursued oncology and fertility cryopreservation have stored reproductive material in the numerous ART clinics in Ukraine.
Such stored material is now at risk of demise due to lack of monitoring, security and continuous provision of liquid nitrogen.
ESHRE has taken the initiative to help clinics in Ukraine and neighboring countries identify pathways to safely move the stored gametes and embryos -with the appropriate documentation- outside of the conflict zone to safe European Tissue Establishments who are willing to accept them.
1 March 2022 - Update 3 March 2022
ESHRE shares concerns of the World Health Organisation for the health, safety and well-being of the people of Ukraine following the Russian government’s unprovoked assault.
ESHRE has many Ukrainian members, some of whom have already contacted the Society for support, and we are honoured to pledge our commitment to the people of Ukraine.
ESHRE is an international organisation whose ethical judgements have always been based on responsible science and a duty of care to patients. We condemn the aggressive behaviour of the Russian government which impedes our colleagues in Ukraine and elsewhere from fulfilling their medical duties and helping patients in need of medical care.
ESHRE also shares the outrage of many academic and medical organisations condemning the aggression. We reaffirm the moral obligation of governments to ensure that the medical profession can freely continue its care for patients without the threat of violence.
Now, as the attacks on Ukrainian cities intensify, we have heard from the President and Vice-President of the Ukrainian Association of Reproductive Medicine to learn that a perinatal centre and a maternity hospital had been attacked. Such unprovoked aggression subverts every scientific and ethical principle on which ESHRE stands and it leaves us little choice but to dissociate the Society from organisations and institutions in Russia and Belarus. We recognise that not all ESHRE members and colleagues in Russia and Belarus support the assault on Ukraine, and we will not prevent their individual access to relevant medical information or scientific knowledge. But our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine at this tragic time.
28 February 2022
David Baird, one of the UK’s most eminent figures in the field of obstetrics, gynaecology and reproductive biology, died on 12th February 2022 at the age of eighty-six. During a long and productive career, he made seminal contributions to the developing field of Reproductive Endocrinology, established the MRC unit of Reproductive Biology involving both basic and clinical scientists and pioneered safe methods of Medical Abortion. He was a passionate advocate for the health and rights of women and for women in medicine. His many internationally recognised scientific and clinical contributions have had an enormous impact on women’s healthcare and on the careers of colleagues everywhere. He was a supporter of the work and objectives of ESHRE, particularly in the early years.
David Baird was born in Glasgow in 1935 into a medical family. His father, Sir Dugald Baird, was Regius Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Aberdeen. He studied at the Universities of Aberdeen, Cambridge, and Edinburgh, graduating in medicine in 1959. His early clinical training was in endocrinology, and obstetrics and gynaecology, in Edinburgh and London. He was a Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE).
David Baird embraced the developing science of reproductive endocrinology in the 1960’s when, appointed to a prestigious research fellowship at the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology in Massachusetts, he began his life-long interest in experimental reproductive biology and the use of animal models to answer crucial research questions. He played a leading role in the development of the first chemical assays for the measurement of the sex-hormones oestradiol and oestrone and working with Tait at the Worcester he explored the biology of steroid pre-hormones. He studied the hitherto unrecognised roles for prostaglandins in reproduction, demonstrating the phenomenon whereby prostaglandin F2a from the uterus reached the ovary to bring about luteolysis. These and other discoveries were to have invaluable applications, in both human and animal reproduction.
In 1968, he returned to Edinburgh and two years later was promoted to senior lecturer and consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at the Royal Infirmary. In 1972, with Roger Short FRS, he established the Medical Research Council (MRC) Reproductive Biology Unit and was Deputy Director until 1977 when he was appointed Professor and Head of Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Edinburgh. Then from 1985 until his retirement in 2000, he was MRC Clinical Research Professor of Reproductive Endocrinology.
In Edinburgh, his further original research contributed to the elucidation of basic biological mechanisms in the control and function of the human gonads and the gametes they produce, relevant to the early development of assisted reproduction techniques, including ovulation induction and in vitro fertilisation. He made a telling contribution to the understanding of the regulation of ovarian follicle selection and development. His pioneering development of a unique method of studying the ovary in the sheep by transplanting it to an accessible site on the animal’s neck, led to major advances in understanding of the regulation and function of the ovary. Also using the sheep, he and colleagues established the cryopreservation of ovarian tissue and demonstrated the retention of its gamete and hormone producing capacities, a pivotal contribution which has transformed the lives of young cancer survivors.
He was passionate about the globally important issue of fertility control and pursued widening the options for contraception and safe medical abortion, pioneering the use of prostaglandins and then, crucially, progesterone receptor antagonists. In 1995 he led the establishment of the Contraceptive Development Network (CDN), with funding from the MRC and the Department for International Development, to harness international collaborations in Africa and China to deliver novel approaches to contraception, including hormonal methods in men.
David Baird’s many internationally recognised scientific and clinical contributions have had a huge impact on women’s healthcare and on the careers of colleagues in his discipline worldwide. He established many international collaborations, particularly with reproductive scientists in Australia, developed during a sabbatical there. He wrote over four hundred peer-reviewed scientific publications and was editor of several books on reproduction. He pursued his belief of the need for improved understanding of human reproductive biology and its translation to benefit individual patients. And he engaged the government, the medical profession and the public in the ethical and scientific debates surrounding these fundamental scientific advances. While he could appear intimidating in scientific meetings, he was always congenial and had a refined sense of humour. His advice, encouragement and counsel were greatly valued by all those who collaborated with him.
His many clinical and research achievements have received widespread recognition. He was awarded the Marshall Medal of the Society for the Study of Fertility, the Dale Medal of the Endocrine Society, and the Eardley Holland Gold Medal of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. He was appointed Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and created Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2000 for services to obstetrics and gynaecology.
ESHRE also recognizes David Baird’s many valuable contributions as an invited speaker and moderator at many of its meetings. He was also the Chair of the Local Organising Committee of ESHRE’s 13th Annual Meeting, held in Edinburgh in 1997. In 2002, he was bestowed an ESHRE Honorary Membership as a tribute to his many achievements and in recognition of his work in the field of reproductive medicine and science.
David Baird had a lifelong love of Scottish mountains and the great outdoors, and he and his wife Anna always offered the warmest of welcomes at their cottage above Loch Tummel in the Scottish Highlands. He will be greatly missed by many and those who knew him will hold treasured memories of a quite exceptional man.
Alan Templeton CBE, MD, FRCOG, FRCP, FRCPE, FMedSci
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