Framing the Ethical and Legal Issues of Human Artificial Gametes in Research, Therapy, and Assisted Reproduction: A German Perspective
13 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2018
Date Written: June 2018
Recent results from studies on animals suggest that functional germ cells may be generated from human pluripotent stem cells, giving rise to three possibilities: research with these so‐called artificial gametes, including fertilization experiments in vitro; their use in vivo for therapy for the treatment of human infertility; and their use in assisted reproductive technologies in vitro. While the legal, philosophical, and ethical questions associated with these possibilities have been already discussed intensively in other countries, the debate in Germany is still at its beginning. A systematic and detailed analysis of the legal framework in Germany is provided with regard to the three possibilities, including the applicable statutory laws as well as the constitutional law. The question emerges as to whether the statutory laws as well as the constitution justify a distinction to be made between embryos of artificial and natural origin. This question is subject to philosophical analysis, discussing the distinction between person and thing, dignity and price, personality and property, and nature and technique. As a result, the criterion of naturalness alone may not be sufficient to differentiate between embryos of natural and artificial origin, and other criteria need to be identified.
Keywords: artificial germ cells, artificiality, ethics, human embryo, law, naturalness, pluripotent stem cells
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