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June 18, 1982

Human In Vitro Fertilization: A Conservative View

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Religion, the College of William and Mary in Virginia, Williamsburg.

JAMA. 1982;247(23):3235-3242. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320480051026

Ethical objections to both the means and ends of clinical in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer, as well as of nonclinical applications, are analyzed and evaluated. Morally important but inconclusive arguments consider these procedures to be unnatural or harmful to women. The decisive objection to clinical uses lies in the possible and even likely risk of greater than normal harm to offspring. A discussion of the need and right to have children, and of the relationship of this procedure to abortion and to freezing embryos, concludes the analysis of clinical uses. The ethics of research applications of in vitro fertilization hinges on the status of the embryo. After prefatory conceptual clarification, this article argues for the inclusion of human embryos within protectable humanity, which makes nontherapeutic research unjustifiable. Public decision making and federal research funding are discussed.

(JAMA 1982;247:3235-3242)