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In his discussion of in vitrogametogenesis, Rob Sparrow claims that an ethical barrier to development of this technology is that many jurisdictions currently prohibit the practice of creating embryos solely for the purpose of research. However, he suggests that this ethical barrier will soon be eroded, in view of the fact that in vitro gametogenesis could serve as a powerful new technology to overcome infertility. In this commentary, I argue that Sparrow is being overly optimistic in his analysis here. I claim that the debate over so-called compromise positions in the human embryonic stem cell debate suggests that the purpose of the research for which a research embryo is created is unlikely to be considered as having any significant bearing on the moral permissibility of the practice for those who oppose it. Even though in vitro gametogenesis could serve as a powerful new technology to overcome infertility, I argue that opponents of the practice of creating embryos solely for research purposes would still view the creation of research embryos that the development of in vitro gametogenesis would require, as being incompatible with affording the embryo proper moral respect. I conclude by suggesting that Sparrow's analysis of the potential benefits of in vitro gametogenesis provides us with further reasons to scrutinise the unconvincing arguments that are often cited in favour of prohibiting the practice of creating embryos solely for research purposes.

Original publication

DOI

10.1136/medethics-2013-101660

Type

Journal article

Journal

J Med Ethics

Publication Date

11/2014

Volume

40

Pages

737 - 738

Keywords

Eugenics, Stem Cell Research, Female, Genetic Engineering, Genome, Human, Humans, In Vitro Techniques, Male, Stem Cells