Access to genetic material: reproductive technologies and bioethical issues

2007 | journal article; research paper. A publication of Göttingen

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​Access to genetic material: reproductive technologies and bioethical issues​
Himmel, W.   & Michelmann, H. W.​ (2007) 
Reproductive BioMedicine Online15 pp. 18​-24​.​ DOI: 

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Himmel, Wolfgang ; Michelmann, Hans Wilhelm
New assisted reproduction technologies provide access to, and require the handling of, genetic material. Such material includes gametes or early-stage embryos. After a selective appraisal of some of the most relevant developments facilitated by the access to germ cells and embryos, this paper identifies some major ethical challenges created by the assisted reproduction technologies, with a special focus on Germany. The rapid progress in medical technology makes it difficult to prohibit or allow assisted reproduction technologies on the basis of such traditional criteria as the protection of human life, medical indications or a preference to adhere to natural processes. Instead, a more open discussion and a flexible application of ethical principles may be more helpful, such as: (i) considering DNA as a biological data file which allows potential access to a person's biography or identity; (ii) reconciling the protection of the early embryo with patients' needs; and (iii) placing both the mother and her embryo at the centre of bioethical and legal considerations, instead of exclusively relying on ethical principles and expert opinions with regard to the embryo alone. To continue the success of assisted reproduction, more attention should be given to the 'lifeworld' philosophy, as some authors have put it.
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Reproductive BioMedicine Online 
Institut für Allgemeinmedizin 



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