Personhood Debate vs IVF in Research Paper

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Additionally, the utilitarian position presents the advantage of objectively quantifying the interests of everyone affected by the decision, for the sole purpose of promoting common welfare. Thus, harvesting, fertilizing, genetically screening, implanting and researching human embryos at the risk of damaging or destroying them - is entirely justified from this perspective, and any progressive endeavor is encouraged.

Nevertheless, this approach might involuntarily discourage many IVF clients as it appears to be too rigid and provides them with little autonomy in making decisions regarding their own embryos. Interestingly, a utilitarian might not even support IVF treatment, due to the risks involved in the whole process - namely a large financial loss if the process should fail -, an therefore it is uncertain whether or not this infertility treatment would meet the Utilitarian requirements of avoiding pain and creating the most amount of happiness; there might be a lot of future un-happiness more so than future happiness. Moreover, the IVF treatment is designed to unfold over a long period of time and might not be completed due to an unforeseen complication. In an extensive interpretation, Utilitarianism from an IVF onset may be seriously faulty, because the future is uncertain to the extent that it is virtually impossible to infer whether or not the baby grows up to become helpful for others and create happiness later in life.

On the other hand, if the Ethics of Care approach is solely used, it might cause a demand for greater storage facilities and bring about the closure of clinics as expansion for embryo storage would be impossible. The common morality theory by W. Frankena and W.D. Ross holds that beneficence and justice are the two major principles of morality (Beauchamp and Childress 330). These theorists contend that a person's acts, motivation or character may be right or wrong, but that, overall, good should be greater than evil. Therefore, taking a valuable ethical standpoint in the IVF debate would involve the efficient application of multiple moral principles, rules, and virtues.

Besides moral virtues such as respect for autonomy, non-malevolence, beneficence and justice, caring is a crucial moral principle. According to Watson (49), "a transpersonal caring relationship in which the nurse is able to assess and apprehend the experience of another, to feel a union with the other and to take care of the other's needs epitomizes an ethic of care." In this light, it can be asserted that, in order to actively optimize the proposed recommendations, it is vital that IVF specialists act in a caring manner while anticipating the needs of their clients.

In conclusion, with IVF, assisted reproductive medicine became literally productive, as it continues to create new life in strange and new conditions. Ever since the birth of the world's first in vitro fertilization baby in 1978, the changing landscape of human reproduction has elicited controversial public debate, countless moral dilemmas and legal issues. In order to reach a firm ethical consensus in the matter of IVF, Barb Haag-Heitman's words might provide an appropriate blueprint: "[similar to] many other aspects of life that have been profoundly affected by technology, it will be virtually impossible to resolve the ambiguity that IVF has raised, except as we find and create new meanings for vital concepts, and experience allows us to integrate them into new interpretations of our social and ethical worldview" (Schermer and Keulartz 17).


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Kolata, G. "Robert G. Edwards Dies at 87; Changed Rules of Conception With First 'Test Tube Baby'." The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 10 Apr. 2013. Web. 4 June 2013. Available:

Schermer, M. And Keulartz, J. "How Pragmatic is Bioethics? The Case of in Vitro Fertilization." in: Pragmatist Ethics for a Technological Culture / J. Keulartz, M. Korthals, M. Schermer, T. Swierstra. - Dordrecht [etc.]: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2002.

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