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Research: Embryo

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Encyclopedia of Global Bioethics

Abstract

Embryo research generates therapies for reproductive and nonreproductive conditions. It often involves embryonic stem cells (ESCs) obtained through the destruction of embryos. Ethical and regulatory questions about the acceptability of destroying embryos center on whether and when embryos become morally significant. Many regulatory frameworks hold that human embryos have some level of moral significance but are not morally equivalent to persons and that it is preferable to use excess embryos for research than to discard them. These permit embryo research with restrictions, typically limiting it to using excess embryos that are no longer clinically needed. Ethical concerns also arise about using the word “discard” as a euphemism for “destroy”; the adequacy of disclosure during informed consent; societal influences that impede voluntariness; and possible commodification of ova, embryos, and women. This entry explores these issues for human embryo and ESC research and highlights the roles of governments, associations, institutions, and RECs in promoting research integrity and adherence to human subject protections, without which clinical advances in research would be impossible. It does not discuss the many ethical concerns regarding nonhuman embryo research or human manipulations to determine sex or enhance traits.

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Correspondence to Daryl Ramai or Cheryl C. Macpherson .

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Ramai, D., Macpherson, C.C. (2015). Research: Embryo. In: ten Have, H. (eds) Encyclopedia of Global Bioethics. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-05544-2_370-1

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