Using stem cell-derived gametes for same-sex reproduction: an alternative scenario

Journal of Medical Ethics 43 (10):688-691 (2017)
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It has been suggested that future application of stem-cell derived gametes might lead to the possibility for same-sex couples to have genetically related children. Still, for this to become possible, the technique of gamete derivation and techniques of reprogramming somatic cells to a pluripotent state would have to be perfected. Moreover, egg cells would have to be derived from male cells and sperm cells from female cells, which is believed to be particularly difficult, if not impossible. We suggest a more plausible scenario to provide same-sex couples with the possibility to parent a child who is genetically related to both parents. Although technical feasibility is an advantage, disadvantages are that cooperation of a donor of the opposite sex is still required and that the partners are genetically linked to the resulting child in a different degree. However, since in our scenario the donor's genetic contribution would not outweigh any of the parents' genetic contribution, this alternative route may ease the fear for a possible parental claim by the donor. Like many other applications in the field of infertility treatment, the goal to create SCD-gametes for reproductive purposes is largely based on the high value attributed to genetic parenthood. Although we believe that genetic relatedness is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for ‘good’ parenthood, we do believe that many people may consider our scenario a welcome alternative.



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Author Profiles

Heidi Mertes
University of Ghent
Guido Pennings
University of Ghent