Ethical reflections on the status of the preimplantation embryo leading to the German embryo protection act

Science and Engineering Ethics 1 (2):145-150 (1995)
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Ethical conflicts have always been connected with new techniques of reproductive medicine such as in-vitro fertilization. The fundamental question is: When does human life begin and from which stage of development should the embryo be protected? This question cannot be solved by scientific findings only. In prenatal ontogenesis there is no moment during the development from the fertilized oocyte to a human being which could be recognized as an orientation point for all ethical problems connected with the question of the right to dispose of prenatal life (interruption of pregnancy, research on embryos). The protection of an individual human life must be valid for all in the same manner and from the very beginning on. It must not depend on value judgments or on stages of development, so-called grades of humanity, because these would then become selection criteria. Procreated life must have the right to be born. These were the essential ethical arguments which led to the German Embryo Protection Law



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