The moral status of the human embryo has gained much attention in debates over the acceptability, or otherwise, of human embryonic stem cell research. Far less attention has been paid to the suppliers of those embryos: people who have undergone IVF treatment to produce embryos to assist them to have a baby. It is sociologically and ethically important to understand their views and experiences of being asked to donate embryos for research if we are to fully understand the wider social and regulatory aspects of hESC science. This paper reports on parallel studies investigating these issues in the UK and in Switzerland. The studies reveal the inextricable entangling of the social and moral status of embryos. Since donors participate in different discursive domains and contexts (public, clinic, family) that shape their perception of "what" an embryo is, their views of embryos embody conflicting ideas and ambivalences.
Research Areas and Centers
- Research Area: Center for Cultural Studies (ZKFL)