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  

Barbara Advena‐Regnery

Philosophical-Theological College

Hans-Georg Dederer

University of Passau

Franziska Enghofer

University of Passau

Tobias Cantz

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics (MPIMG)

Thomas Heinemann

University of Bonn - Department of Philosophy; Institut für Wissenschaft und Ethik

Date Written: June 2018

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Advena‐Regnery, Barbara and Dederer, Hans-Georg and Enghofer, Franziska and Cantz, Tobias and Heinemann, Thomas, Framing the Ethical and Legal Issues of Human Artificial Gametes in Research, Therapy, and Assisted Reproduction: A German Perspective (June 2018). Bioethics, Vol. 32, Issue 5, pp. 314-326, 2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3188545 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bioe.12433

Barbara Advena‐Regnery (Contact Author)

Philosophical-Theological College ( email )

Pallottistr. 3
Vallendar, 56179
Germany

Hans-Georg Dederer

University of Passau

Innstrasse 27
Passau, 94032
Germany

Franziska Enghofer

University of Passau ( email )

Innstrasse 27
Passau, 94032
Germany

Tobias Cantz

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics (MPIMG) ( email )

Ihnestraße 63-73
Berlin, 14195
Germany

Thomas Heinemann

University of Bonn - Department of Philosophy; Institut für Wissenschaft und Ethik ( email )

Niebuhrstrasse 51
Bonn, 53113
Germany
49-228-731920 (Phone)
49-228-7350 (Fax)

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