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Human Embryos and Gametes

Information : Online Articles

human embryos gametesHuman gametes have a unique status compared to other human body cells.  This is because it is only the gametes that have the reproductive capacity to form a new human life, and in doing so carry an individual’s heritage to the next generation.  Gametes therefore need to be treated in accord with this status and so there are particular ethical considerations that pertain to their use in reproductive technology programmes as well as in research applications.

Human embryos are human life at its earliest developmental stage.  Upon union of egg and sperm a genetically unique individual is formed with the capacity to direct its own development and in the normal course of events be born as a child.  The human embryo is human life at a vulnerable stage and with the advent of assisted reproductive technology, has become particularly vulnerable.  Once conception and early embryonic development became possible outside of the human body, embryos could be screened for genetic conditions, discarded, frozen and stored, used for training purposes, or research with or without their destruction.  The moral status of human embryos is the central question in determining what should or should not be done to them, and it is a question that has been considered by philosophers for millennia.  There are strongly polarized views on this question that have lead to very different legislative regimes in different countries.