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Moral Challenges of New Reproductive Technologies

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Prof. Eve-Marie Engels: In Vitro Fertilization and its Long-Term Challenges

For many people the primary purpose of the introduction of IVF was to alleviate infertility by assisted conception and to help couples to become parents. However, after its successful introduction IVF provided a range of further options, like preimplantation genetic diagnosis, embryonic stem cell research, and “social freezing”, the freezing of young women’s eggs with the option of thawing them for fertilisation in later life under more appropriate circumstances. All these techniques are bound up with a variety of ethical and social problems which have to be addressed.

Prof. Martin Richards: Ethical challenges in the use of reproductive donation

The prime ethical issues in collaborative reproduction involving the use of donor insemination concern the relationships of the child with the intending parents and the donor. The historical development of arguments about the status of sperm donor offspring will be outlined and I will discuss contemporary ethical challenges in the use of donor sperm.

About the Speakers:

Professor Eve-Marie Engels

Professor Eve-Marie Engels studied philosophy and biology in Bochum, Germany, where she also received her PhD. The topic of her doctoral dissertation was the problem of teleology in the philosophy of science, and she specialised in evolutionary epistemology. She held positions in Germany and the USA before taking on the first German chair for bioethics in Tübingen in 1996. She has published numerous articles and books on topics ranging from philosophy of science to applied ethics to Charles Darwin. She has been a member of the International Centre for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities which investigates the question of responsibility and applied ethics from an interdisciplinary perspective. Prof Engels has also held various advisory positions for policy-makers such as memberships of the German Ethics Council (2001-2007) and the scientific advisory board of the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (since 2014).

Professor Martin Richards

Professor Martin Richards gained his PhD in Zoology at Cambridge, on maternal behaviour in the golden hamster. During his postdoctoral work at Harvard and Princeton, Prof Richards’ interests shifted towards maternal behaviour in our own species, and he returned to Cambridge to found what was to become the Centre for Family Research. Since his retirement from the Directorship of the Centre in 2005, he has continued a prolific and diverse research programme focussing on family life, on the meaning of ‘genetic connection’ in the context of alternative reproductive technologies, and most recently on the ethical issues surrounding research participation. In 2013 Prof Richards was invited to chair a Working Party at the Nuffield Council on Bioethics on ‘Collecting, linking, use and exploitation of biological and health data: ethical issues’. He is Vice Chair of the UK Biobank Ethics and Governance Council and has previously served six years as a member of the Ethics and Law Committee of the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority. Currently, Prof Richards is preparing the third in a three-part series of edited volumes on alternative reproductive technologies, entitled ‘Regulating Reproductive Donation’.

This talk is part of the Moral Psychology Research Group series.

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