Explain some of the religious and moral issues relevant to the development of new reproductive technologies.

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Explain some of the religious and moral issues relevant to the development of new reproductive technologies. [35]

The development of new reproductive technologies have revolutionised the way society views infertility. However, many object to methods such as IVF, cloning, ICSI and PGD for moral and religious reasons. In examining these issues, a good place to start is IVF.

IVF – in vitro fertilisation – is one of the most commonly used reproductive technologies. This method bypasses the need for intercourse to conceive; embryos are instead created in a lab and implanted into a mother. It can either use gametes from two parents, or in the case of a homosexual couple some of the material will be donated. From a human-rights perspective everyone has the right to a family life, which some interpret to mean a right to IVF. However, even from a purely secular point of view there are moral problems with IVF. For example, the new ICSI method bypasses many of the body's natural defences for weeding out unfit sperm and therefore the child is at a higher risk of genetic abnormalities. Additionally, some feminists view reproductive technology with suspicion. Feminists refer to a `pro-natalist' ideology prevalent in Western society, whereby women are encouraged to believe that their fulfilment and happiness depends upon their being able to bear children. They fear women may be coerced into IVF.

The main issue that Christians would have with IVF is that many embryos are created and then destroyed. More embryos are produced in order to increase the chances of successful implantation, but in the UK you cannot use more than two embryos per IVF cycle. This creates spare embryos that are discarded, experimented upon or frozen for later use. The majority of Christians believe that life and personhood are intertwined, and both begin at conception. Christians believe in the sanctity of life, meaning that all human life is created in God’s image and has intrinsic worth. The most important verse they turn to is part of the Decalogue: “do not kill.” Moreover, Psalm 139 says, “you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Therefore the discarding of spare embryos is murder of an innocent life.
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As with any issue, denominational opinions differ. The Roman Catholic Church defends traditional family structures and view IVF as unnatural. They published a document in 1987called Respect for Human Life in its Origin and the Dignity of Procreation. This emphasised the principles concerning the sanctity of life laid down much earlier in the Papal Encyclical, Humanae Vitae of 1968. In summary it claimed that children were a gift from God and not a commodity, and the proper place for children is within marriage. The church has expressed fears that IVF trivialises intercourse.

Protestant churches tend to ...

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