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The meaning of synthetic gametes for gay and lesbian people and bioethics too
  1. Timothy F Murphy
  1. Correspondence to Dr Timothy F Murphy, Department of Medical Education, University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago, m/c 591, 808 S. Wood St., Chicago, IL 60612-7309, USA; tmurphy{at}


Some commentators indirectly challenge the ethics of using synthetic gametes as a way for same-sex couples to have children with shared genetics. These commentators typically impose a moral burden of proof on same-sex couples they do not impose on opposite-sex couples in terms of their eligibility to have children. Other commentators directly raise objections to parenthood by same-sex couples on the grounds that it compromises the rights and/or welfare of children. Ironically, the prospect of synthetic gametes neutralises certain of these objections, insofar as they would ensure that children have parents whom they can know as their genetic parents, which outcome is not always possible when same-sex couples involve third parties as the source of gametes or embryos. Not all commentators in bioethics throw the use of synthetic gametes into doubt as far as same-sex couples are concerned, but even these commentators put parenting by gay men and lesbians at the conclusion of an argument rather than presupposing parental legitimacy from the outset. Synthetic gametes do raise questions of ethics in regard to parenthood for gay men and lesbians, but these are largely questions of access and equity, not questions of parental fitness and/or child welfare.

  • Children
  • Embryonic Stem Cells
  • Ethics
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Sexuality/Gender

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