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What are the ethical issues involved as a result of using biotechnology in cases of infertility ?

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Introduction

What are the ethical issues involved as a result of using biotechnology in cases of infertility Biotechnological methods producing human embryos have been evolving since 1978 where the first test-tube baby was born. This involves the fusion of gametes outside the human body and is a technique known as In-Vitro-Fertilization (IVF). Of course, this method is worth considering in cases of infertility but this also brings up many implications and issues to discuss. There is no problem with fertilization but the difficulty crops up with embryo transfer where the 4/5 embryos are transferred to the mother's womb hoping that one of them will implant itself in the women's uterine lining and develop into a baby. The chances of getting pregnant are very remote and so it became standard that more ova than required are extracted, all of which are fertilized. Only 4/5 embryos are used for implantation. The others are put aside, frozen in nitrogen baths, for later use. ...read more.

Middle

Hence, at fertilization it is the development of a potential person rather than m person with potential. Hence, at fertilization it is the development of a potential person which starts and not the development of a person with potential. The ethical implication of this is that although embryos are recognized to be human beings, are not considered to be human persons and as only persons have rights, they can be used for research or destroyed. This was the reasoning adopted by Mary Warnock who wrote a report regarding the introduction of new methods of reproduction in the UK. One particular recommendation of the report stated that embryos must, before they are 14 days old, be used for implantation, research, frozen or destroyed. In other words they cannot be kept alive beyond 14 days. After fertilization a process of cell division starts where the fertilized cell begins to divide until it becomes a ball of cells. ...read more.

Conclusion

This stands in stark contrast with the philosophical reasoning in utilitarianism. Utilitarians do not consider the individual human being to be of paramount value. According to them, what really matters is 'the greatest good for the greatest number'. Therefore this implies that if the results obtained from embryo research can give happiness to those who are infertile or have genetic defect, then research on embryos is ethically correct. Using the 'utility principle' the pre-embryo may be harmed or destroyed for the benefit of others. It need not be respected or treated as an end itself. The human embryo is a human being and the respect due to it must not be different from the respect due to other human beings. It has the right of life and therefore must not be killed or exploited for any purpose whatsoever. Only Kantian ethics guarantees the defense of the dignity of the human embryo from the moment of conception. ...read more.

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