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Just another reproductive technology? The ethics of human reproductive cloning as an experimental medical procedure


Human reproductive cloning (HRC) has not yet resulted in any live births. There has been widespread condemnation of the practice in both the scientific world and the public sphere, and many countries explicitly outlaw the practice. Concerns about the procedure range from uncertainties about its physical safety to questions about the psychological well-being of clones. Yet, key aspects such as the philosophical implications of harm to future entities and a comparison with established reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF) are often overlooked in discussions about HRC. Furthermore, there are people who are willing to use the technology. Several scientists have been outspoken in their intent to pursue HRC. The importance of concerns about the physical safety of children created by HRC and comparisons with concerns about the safety of IVF are discussed. A model to be used to determine when it is acceptable to use HRC and other new assisted reproductive technologies, balancing reproductive freedom and safety concerns, is proposed. Justifications underpinning potential applications of HRC are discussed, and it is determined that these are highly analogous to rationalisations used to justify IVF treatment. It is concluded that people wishing to conceive using HRC should have a prima facie negative right to do so.

  • ART, assisted reproductive technology
  • HRC, human reproductive cloning
  • IVF, in vitro fertilisation
  • SCNT, somatic cell nuclear transfer

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