Bioethics Blogs

Taking a ride down the slippery slope


Did you know: we can now make sperm from embryonic stem cells (in mice).  Not
only can we create this sperm, but we can use it to successfully fertilize an
egg and develop into a fully grown mouse. 
And what is the role of bioethics in this scientific discovery,
according to the article?  A brief
mention of theoretical ethical issues relegated to the end of the news article
that no one reads far enough to see, anyway.


 


Scientific advancements in
reproduction have occurred at an unbelievable rate.  We not only have the ability to create sperm,
but we can also create an embryo using three genetic donors, choose or reject
embryos based on their genetic traits, such as sex, and correct genetic defects
by essentially cutting and pasting healthy DNA sequences over defective ones.  Conversely, using such technology, we also
have the potential to clone human beings, choose or reject embryos based on
traits such as hair color or athletic ability, and irreversibly alter a germ
cell line, potentially leading to unknown negative effects in later
generations.


 


While breakthroughs in
reproductive technologies have the potential to address issues as important and
varied as male infertility, uterine factor infertility, mitochondrial disease,
genetic defects and disease, and even artificial gestation, one wonders whether
anyone is stopping to ask: to what end?  How
will we use this technology?  What are
the short- and long-term effects?  How
might this technology be misused?  And,
my personal favorite, when will we start to regulate how and when we tinker
with biology at a genetic level?

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.