This paper addresses the moral status of the embryo based on the ethical concept of the embryo as a patient. This concept is explained by appealing to the ethical principles of beneficence and respect for autonomy and the professional virtue of integrity. The clinical implications of the ethical concept of the embryo as a patient are explored in both in vitro fertilization and nondirective counseling about a newly initiated pregnancy. The purpose of the counseling process should be to integrate beneficence with respect for autonomy to guide a professionally responsible counseling process that is designed to empower the woman to make informed decisions about initiating and continuing pregnancy.
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