Chapter 13 :Reproduction: Assistance and Control Issues   

Section 3. Presentation of Issues.
Outline for Chapter 9 :

Munson, Ronald. INTERVENTION AND REFLECTION . 6th ED.,Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 2000.


Cloning: Genetic Duplicates

Not Safe and Not Right???

VIDEOS:  Human cloning


Test Tube Baby: external fertilization and implantation

Multiple pregnancies: Fertility drugs - risk of abnormalities and deaths

selective reduction: Therapy or evil?

Postmenopausal Motherhood: Sex bias or physical threats to woman and child

New Data: Older Fathers-sperm is now linked to defects in children, including shizophrenia

Embryos in Court: Who owns embryos? Does sperm source/egg source have a right not to be a father/mother?

Father shopping: Sperm by Mail - catalogue of sperm source- shipment by mail

Mother Shopping: Eggs by Internet - website with photos of egg source- shipment by mail

Surrogate Pregnancy: Buying and selling a baby?

Gestational Surrogate Changes her Mind: Whose baby is it?



IVF, GIFT, ZIFT and other techniques

IVF: in vitro fertilization

GIFT: gamete intrafallopian transfer

ZIFT: zygote intrafallopian transfer

ULER: uterine lavage embryo retrieval

PZD: partial zonal dissection

ICSI: intracytoplasmic sperm injection

Need : 10% of US women are infertile, 4 million men are infertile

Success rates: 24% of women treated get pregnant, 78% result in live births

Costs:$10,000-$100,000, over $2 billion each year in USA

Multiple Births: risk of miscarriage, defective children

Freezing Embryos: > 25,000 / year are frozen in the US

Gestational Surrogates and Donor Ova: postmenopausal mothers! Surrogates for convenience! Genetically superior women using genetically inferior surrogates!

Criticisms of Assisted Reproduction:


lack of effectiveness

poor serving the wealthy as egg donors and surrogates

Benefits of IVF and other forms of Assisted Reproduction:

increases possibility of having a child


destroyed embryos

danger to fetus


sex selection

weakening of the family



selling duplicates

genetic copies- twins, triplets, etc........

"spare" child in waiting

AI: Artificial Insemination

Sperm/ Egg Donation

Does a woman have a "right" to AI?

Does a woman have a "right" to select the type of sperm donor?

Should donors be recorded to avoid insemination by kin?

Surrogate Pregnancy

Rich using the less fortunate?

Buying babies?

Outline by  Don Berkich,  University of Texas, Corpus Christi (by permission)

The Standard Argument and the Argument from Potentiality

The Standard Argument








Every human being has a right to life.



Every human embryo is a human being.



Every human embryo has a right to life.

1 & 2

The usual strategy is to accept premise 1 and reject premise 2. But there are generally two problems with this strategy:

  1. An embryo is clearly a homo sapiens, but it is not clearly a person.
  2. Why should a 26-week premie have a right to life and a 32-week fetus not?

Singer's strategy is to reinterpret premise (1) so as to show the argument invalid.

    Why is killing a human being usually considered morally worse than killing other living beings? Because human beings have superior mental powers.

    If we reinterpret Premise (1) so as to restrict 'human being' to those members of homo sapiens with superior mental powers, then the Standard Argument commits the Fallacy of Equivocation.

But should members of homo sapiens be protected just because they are members?

  1. What about ET?
  2. What about the danger of speciesism?
The Argument from Potentiality







Every potential human being has a right to life.



Every human embryo is a potential human being.



Every human embryo has a right to life.

1 & 2

What justification can be given for premise (1)?

  1. This rule is unacceptable: If every F has a right R and x is a potential F, then x has R.
  2. Likewise this rule is unacceptable: If an F is to be valued, then anything that might give rise to an F is to be valued.
  3. The two-petri dishes thought experiment objection to premise (1).

      It might be objected to the two-petri dish thought experiment that the difference between the two dishes lies in the genetic uniqueness of the fertilized egg as opposed to the non-uniqueness of the unfertilized egg.

      But the uniqueness argument can be met with a refinement of the two-petri dish thought experiment.

The minimal characteristic needed to give an embryo a claim to moral consideration is it's capacity to feel pleasure or pain.

    But then it follows that other beings which feel pleasure or pain ought to be included in moral consideration.

    Implications of this principle for reproductive research/technology.

    1. There is no ethical objection to discarding or, perhaps, experimenting on a very early embryo.
    2. 'Very early' is safely defined as up to 28 days gestation.
    3. There is no moral objection to freezing embryos, provided that there is no greater risk of abnormality.



Natural Law Theory;

All techniques of assistance for married heterosexual couples is in keeping with the reproductive drive and natural law.

Utilitarian Theory: An act utilitarian might approve of al such means to provide for happiness. A rule utilitarian might oppose those techniques which when used as a rule would over time produce less welfare for members of society.

Kantian Theory: Would approve in general the practice of promoting births but would be opposed to any practices which violate the categorical imperative: any procedure that treats a person as a means and not as an end in him/herself.

Rawls Theory: Would favor the use of technologies that promote the liberties of those involved and would not disadvantage the least well off. the least well off must be advantaged in some way by the use of the technologies.


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Copyright Philip A. Pecorino 2002. All Rights reserved.

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