Skip to main content

Contested Tissues: The Donation of Oocytes and Embryos in the IVF-Stem Cell Interface in China

  • Chapter
  • First Online:
Safety, Ethics and Regulations

Part of the book series: Stem Cells in Clinical Applications ((SCCA))

  • 613 Accesses

Abstract

The continued significance of human embryonic stem cell research and recent advances in human somatic cell nuclear transfer and human gamete and embryo gene editing have given rise to renewed debates on the donation and use of human embryos and oocytes for research, therapies, and commercial applications. Sociological studies of cell and tissue donation have also indicated that the ethical procedures and social and moral values that surround the donation and use of human reproductive tissues for research do often differ across countries. This chapter addresses the donation of human embryos for human embryonic stem cell research in China. The chapter is based on interviews with 15 IVF clinicians , 15 stem cell researchers, and 15 IVF patients who were asked to donate their embryos for hESC research. Part I focuses on the role and enactment of informed consent procedures. A question that I ask in this respect is what ideas are communicated to potential embryo donors, so that the donation of their spare embryos for hESC research appears reasonable and justifiable? Based on interview data I will illustrate a variety of rhetorical practices and strategies that underpin informed consent procedures. These range from the responsible facilitation of informed choice that emphasizes patient autonomy and the right to refuse donation to more problematic rhetorical practices that involve the provision of false facts and patient deception. Part II discusses these findings in light of the regulatory context in which human embryonic stem cells are produced, banked, and distributed in China. To illustrate the specific effects of this regulatory system, I will draw on a comparison with the regulatory situation in the UK. The chapter concludes that there is often a significant gap between the ways in which the value and use of donated embryos is described to patients and the actual forms of value that these tissues gain in the context of research, distribution, and commercial use. With the renewed importance of human gametes and embryos for human genome editing, these findings indicate that there is the need for more, critical in-depth research into actual donation practices of gametes and embryos and into the needs and perceptions of human tissue donors.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Chapter
USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD 129.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 169.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD 169.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • Corrigan O (2003) Empty Ethics: the problem with informed consent. Sociology of Health and Illness 25(3):768–792

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Dickenson D (2006) The lady vanishes: what’s missing from the stem cell debate. Biotech Inq 3:43–54

    Google Scholar 

  • Franklin S (2006) The IVF-Stem cell Interface. International Journal of Surgery 4(4):86–90

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Rosemann A (2010) The IVF-stem cell interface in China: ontologies, value-conceptions and donation practices of ‘Chinese’ forms of unborn human life. In: Doering O (ed) Life sciences in translation: a Sino-European dialogue on ethical governance of the life sciences. BIONET, London, 168–178

    Google Scholar 

  • Rosemann A (2011) Modalities of value, exchange, solidarity: exploring the social life of stem cells in China. New Genet Soc 30(2):181–192

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rosemann A, Luo HY (under review) Attitudes and perceptions on hESC research and embryo donation among IVF patients, hESC researchers and students in China. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry

    Google Scholar 

  • Sleeboom-Faulkner M (2014) Global morality and life science practices in Asia: assemblages of life. Palgrave MacMillan, London

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Stephens N, Atkinson P, Glasner P (2008) The UK stem cell bank: securing the past, validating the present, protecting the future. Science as Culture 17(1):43–56

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Svendsen MN, Koch L (2008) Unpacking the “spare embryo”: facilitating stem cell research in a moral landscape. Social Studies of Science 38(1):93–110

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Thomson JA, Itskovitz-Eldor J, Shapiro SS, Waknitz MA, Swiergiel JJ, Marshall VS, Jones JM (1998) Embryonic stem cell lines derived from human blastocysts. Science 282(5391):1145–1147

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Waldby C, Mitchell R (2006) Tissue economies: blood, organs, and cell lines in late capitalism. Duke University Press, Durham and London

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Warrell D (2009) Cure committee report: China–UK research ethics. UK Medical Research Council. http://www.mrc.ac.uk/Utillities/Documentrecord/index.htm?d=MRC006303. Retrieved 24 Feb 2016

Download references

Acknowledgments

This article has benefited from research support provided by the European Research Council (ERC, 283219) and the Economic and Social Science Research Council (ESRC, ES/I018107/1). Due to ethical concerns, supporting data cannot be made openly available.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Achim Rosemann .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2017 Springer International Publishing AG

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Rosemann, A. (2017). Contested Tissues: The Donation of Oocytes and Embryos in the IVF-Stem Cell Interface in China. In: Pham, P., Rosemann, A. (eds) Safety, Ethics and Regulations. Stem Cells in Clinical Applications. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-59165-0_14

Download citation

Publish with us

Policies and ethics