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Reproductive Technology

Legal, Ethical, And Moral Considerations

The use of these powerful techniques to facilitate reproduction in both humans and animals (the techniques can be used in cattle and pigs, and in the conservation of endangered wildlife) must be balanced against legal, ethical, and moral concerns. For example, would it be permissible to revive extinct animal species? Although a Jurassic Park-like scenario to reanimate extinct dinosaurs is not scientifically credible at this time, what if it became possible to use this technology to form embryos and clone an extinct mammoth, or the passenger pigeon? And what if we can do this for extinct humans? Just because we can develop the capability, would it be acceptable? What are the ethics involved?

Other concerns include questions about how long embryos should remain frozen and who owns frozen embryos not used by the parents. What happens if the parents separate, divorce, or die? What about the legal entanglements involved with surrogacy? Already in the media there have been a number of such cases reported. With the expected increase of these procedures in the future, it is likely that such complex questions will only escalate. Finally, there are basic concerns about helping people sidestep the natural birth process to bring into the world a new human.

Charles J. Grossman

and Robert Baumiller


Ryan, Michael. "Countdown to a Baby." New Yorker (July 21, 2002): 68-77.

Schultz, Richard M., and Carmen J. Williams. "The Science of ART." Science 21 (June 2002): 2188-2190.

Additional topics

Medicine EncyclopediaGenetics in Medicine - Part 4Reproductive Technology - Pregnancy And Infertility, In Vitro Fertilization, The Risks Of Ivf, Embryo Transfer Techniques, Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer