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Hum Fertil (Camb). 2006 Jun;9(2):67-71.

Studying potential donors' views on embryonic stem cell therapies and preimplantation genetic diagnosis.

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  • 1Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences (PEALS) Research Institute, Bioscience Centre, International Centre for Life, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. erica.haimes@ncl.ac.uk

Abstract

Embryo experimentation raises many ethical questions, but is established as acceptable practice in the UK under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. The development of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and embryonic stem (ES) cell research is dependent on couples undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) donating for research embryos that are unused in, or unsuitable for, treatment. Rarely is the role of these donors acknowledged, let alone studied. One concern is whether couples feel an obligation to donate embryos because of their gratitude for the IVF treatment they have received. This article, based on an ongoing study investigating the similarities and differences between the views and values of those IVF couples who agree to donate embryos for research and those who refuse to donate embryos, explores the broader issues around embryonic research. Discussions such as this, embedded in a background of empirical research, will assist practitioners and policymakers in assessing the social and ethical contexts of this very important aspect of current and future scientific developments.

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