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Fertilization in vitro, Human--Moral and ethical aspects


The initial development of the technique of in vitro fertilization (IVF) was accompanied by discussion of related ethical questions. Two significant ones were: Did the development of IVF justify the wastage of human embryos which made it possible? Was it justifiable to attempt human embryo transfer without laboratory studies to determine the safety of the technique? Thousands of births as a result of IVF have largely made these two questions moot. But four others remain: Is IVF immoral because it accomplishes procreation in a laboratory rather than through an act of marital union? Is it permissible to maximize the success of IVF through practices which result in the intentional destruction of human embryos or fetuses? Is it ethical to conduct basic scientific research which utilizes laboratory-fertilized embryos? Given uneven and often very low success rates for IVF, should public policy act to protect clients or to promote improved IVF practice? While our society is deeply divided as to the resolution of these problems, it is beginning to engage in public debate, particularly on the last two questions.

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