The primary question to be addressed here is whether pre‐implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), used for both negative and positive trait selection, benefits potential supernumerary embryos. The phrase ‘potential supernumerary embryos’ is used to indicate that PGD is typically performed on a set of embryos, only some of which will be implanted. Prior to any testing, each embryo in the set is potentially supernumerary in the sense that it may not be selected for implantation. Those embryos that are not selected, and hence destroyed or frozen, are ‘actually supernumerary’. The argument to be advanced is hypothetical: If embryos may be said to benefit or be harmed by our actions, then PGD used to select for an embryo or embryos with the highest expected Wellbeing benefits potential supernumerary embryos. The argument shows that the ‘non‐identity’ problem is not sufficient to show that eugenic selection does not benefit supernumerary embryos.
Third-party reproduction is a growing field, and an increasing body of literature considers the ethics of embryo donation. Due to the psychosocial complexities that generally accompany the donation and/or use of donor embryos, psychologists can play a pivotal role in these specialised fertility cases. While laws in the USA are in place to regulate the medical procedures involved in embryo donation, only unenforceable guidelines exist for psychologists specialising in fertility cases. The presentation of this case study aims to: (1) clarify the ethical concerns that fertility psychologists should consider in similar situations by assessing whether American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the American Psychological Association (APA) guidelines compete or complement one another within this case of embryo donation and (2) consider the interests, obligations and rights of all parties involved. Several principles, standards and guidelines that must be considered are described. Overall, the APA Ethics Code and the ASRM Guidelines appear to complement one another for most aspects of this case. Fertility psychologists should consider the clinical implications of the interests, rights and duties of all involved parties, including themselves.
In regulating the voluntary interruption of pregnancy, English law has accorded particular significance to two biological events. First, ‘viability’, the moment when a fetus is said to acquire the capacity for independent life, plays an important role in grounding restrictions on access to legal abortion later in pregnancy. Second, equally significantly but far less frequently discussed, ‘implantation’ marks the point in pregnancy from which abortion laws apply. This paper focuses on this earlier biological event. It suggests that an unquestioning reliance on implantation as marking an appropriate moment of transition between two radically different legal frameworks is deeply problematic and is rendered still less sustainable in the light of the development of new technologies that potentially operate shortly after the moment of implantation.
Anja Karnein has suggested that because of the importance of respect for persons, law and policy should require some human embryos created in vitro to be available for adoption for a period of time. If no one comes forward to adopt the embryos during that time, they may be destroyed (in the case of embryos left over from fertility medicine) or used in research (in the case of embryos created for that purpose or left over from fertility medicine). This adoption option would increase the number of embryos available for couples looking for help in having children, but that effect is less important—Karnein argues—than the observance of respect for human persons. As possible persons, she holds that embryos ought to be treated, as if they will become children, if only for a while. If enacted as a matter of law and policy, an ‘adoption option’ would wrongly interfere with the dispositional rights women and men ought to have over embryos they create in the course of trying to have children. Karnein's proposal would also deprive researchers of certainty that the embryos they create for research would actually be available that way, leading to increased burdens of time and money and maybe even to more embryos than would otherwise be produced. Karnein's analysis does not show, moreover, that any duty of rescue applies to embryos. No woman is required to adopt any embryo, which significantly undercuts the justification for an obligatory adoption period.
Emergency contraceptives may sometimes prevent implantation, thereby causing the death of the embryo. According to some positions contrary to abortion, because the embryo is a human animal, there are usually decisive moral reasons not to use them. In this article, I will show that objecting to the use of emergency contraceptives on those grounds is unjustified. If organisms are real existents, then according to the most plausible conception of what is required for a group of cells to compose one, the embryo cannot qualify as a single organism. On the other hand, if organisms are virtual objects, then whether or not the embryo qualifies as one is morally irrelevant. I conclude that even if those positions are right about the morality of abortion, they are not entitled to oppose the use of emergency contraceptives.
This article wants to show the complexity of the issue of the status of the embryo at the preimplantation stage. To do this, are discussed systematically different reasons behind the nesting position and fertilization position. These reasons are so foundational that we must continue to maintain an open dialogue.
In this paper I present an argument in favour of a parental duty to use preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). I argue that if embryos created in vitro were able to decide for themselves in a rational manner, they would sometimes choose PGD as a method of selection. Couples, therefore, should respect their hypothetical choices on a principle similar to that of patient autonomy. My thesis shows that no matter which moral doctrine couples subscribe to, they ought to conduct the PGD procedure in the situations when it is impossible to implant all of the created embryos and if there is a significant risk for giving birth to a child with a serious condition.
Under current UK law, an embryo cannot be transferred to a woman's uterus without the consent of both of its genetic parents, that is both of the people from whose gametes the embryo was created. This consent can be withdrawn at any time before the embryo transfer procedure. Withdrawal of consent by one genetic parent can result in the other genetic parent losing the opportunity to have their own genetic children. We argue that offering couples only one type of consent agreement, as happens at present, is too restrictive. An alternative form of agreement, in which one genetic parent agrees to forego the right to future withdrawal of consent, should be available alongside the current form of agreement. Giving couples such a choice will better enable them to store embryos under a consent agreement that is appropriate for their circumstances. Allowing such a choice, with robust procedures in place to ensure the validity of consent, is the best way to respect patient autonomy.
Non-Identity arguments have a pervasive but sometimes counter-intuitive grip on certain key areas in ethics. As a result, there has been limited success in supporting the alternative view that our choices concerning future generations can be considered harmful on any sort of person-affecting principle. However, as the Non-Identity Problem relies overtly on certain metaphysical assumptions, plausible alternatives to these foundations can substantially undermine the Non-Identity argument itself. In this paper, I show how the pervasive force and nature of Non-Identity arguments rely upon a specific adoption of a theory of modality and identity and how adopting an alternative account of modality can be used to reject many conclusions formed through Non-Identity type arguments. By using Lewis's counterpart-theoretic account to understand ways we might have been, I outline the basis of a modal account of harm that incorporates a person-affecting aspect. This, in turn, has significant implications for ethical decision-making in areas such as reproductive choice and the welfare of future generations.
The scope of embryo research in the UK has been expanded by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Research Purposes) Regulations 2001. Two advisory bodies–the Chief Medical Officer's Expert Group and the House of Lords' Select Committee–presented various arguments in favour of embryo research. One of these is the view that, just as lottery tickets have relatively little value before the draw because of the low probability of their being the winning ticket, early embryos have relatively little value because of the presumed low probability that they will mature into more developed embryos. This (first) argument from probability is questioned in this paper, as well as the contention that allowing embryo destruction is incompatible with the view that embryos have full moral status. Although I challenge Savulescu's view that early embryos should be entered into a lottery in which they are subjected to the probability of being destroyed (the second argument from probability), a revised version of Thomson's analogy of the famous violinist defies the view that the position that the embryo has full moral status is incompatible with qualified support for embryo destruction.