College of Law and
Management Studies

Law Lecturer Shares Expertise in National Magazine

Law lecturer, Ms Sheetal Soni’s expertise in the niche area of Bioethics, Medical and Reproductive Technology Law, has been featured in the fertility questions and answers segment of the August/September issue of Your Pregnancy Magazine.

As a PhD candidate, Soni is researching the ethical implications of Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis for (PGD) the Purposes of Sex Selection and Tissue Typing.

Soni’s research proposes a reform of South African law to properly regulate PGD for tissue typing and sex selection to ensure that the children who are born as a result are not simply “spare part sisters, or bred-to-order brothers”.

‘The research is incredibly exciting because it asks us to answer very difficult questions such as what does it mean to have value as a person, what does disability really mean, and how much should the state be allowed to interfere in private and personal decisions one should be allowed to make? It analyses the ethical views of the most prominent minds, international human rights law, and the laws of some of the most technologically-advanced nations as well as the most culturally discriminating. This research is important for South Africa because we currently do not have any guidelines on the use of PGD to create saviour siblings,’ explained Soni.

Soni’s expertise also led to her being invited by the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research to participate in the launch of the international Association for Responsible Research and Innovation in Genome Editing (ARRIGE) which took place in Paris, France in March. She is also part of UKZN’s School of Law academics who co-signed the submission on the Phase 1 of the Draft of Intellectual Property Policy of the Republic of South Africa submitted to the Department of Trade and Industry for public comment in October last year. The submission proposed several access-friendly measures for policy and law reform and will see Soni and the other academics participate in follow-up processes such as contributing to the drafting of the necessary legislation to be tabled in Parliament.

The submission is available at http://law.ukzn.ac.za/Libraries/2017-doc/Submission_by_UKZN_Academics_on_SA_Draft_IP_Policy_2017_-_23_October_2017.sflb.ashx

Words: Thandiwe Jumo