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Fertilisation and moral status: a scientific perspective.
  1. K Dawson
  1. Monash University, Australia.


    The debate about the moral status of the embryo has gained new impetus because of the advances in reproductive technology that have made early human embryo experimentation a possibility, and because of the public concern that this arouses. Several philosophical arguments claiming that fertilisation is the event that accords moral status to the embryo were initially formulated in the context of the abortion debate. Were they formulated with sufficient precision to account for the scientific facts as we now understand them? Or do these arguments need modification? Aspects of three arguments for moral status being acquired at fertilisation are examined in relation to current scientific knowledge, highlighting the reasons why such arguments, at present, seem to provide an inadequate basis for the determination of moral status.

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