Donald School Journal of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology

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VOLUME 17 , ISSUE 3 ( July-September, 2023 ) > List of Articles


Preembryo: Medical, Moral, and Legal Aspects

Joseph G Schenker

Keywords : Ethics, In vitro fertilization, Preembryo, Synthetic gametes and embryos

Citation Information : Schenker JG. Preembryo: Medical, Moral, and Legal Aspects. Donald School J Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol 2023; 17 (3):217-222.

DOI: 10.5005/jp-journals-10009-1982

License: CC BY-NC 4.0

Published Online: 30-09-2023

Copyright Statement:  Copyright © 2023; The Author(s).


The preembryo refers to the early stage of human development following fertilization but before implantation in the uterus, typically up to about 14 days old. The moral status of the human preembryo is a subject of ethical and philosophical debate Some argue that the preembryo should be accorded full moral status and rights from the moment of fertilization, considering it as a human being. with the same moral values and rights as any other person. This perspective is often rooted in religious or philosophical beliefs that attribute personhood to the zygote, on the opposite end of the spectrum, some argue that the preembryo lacks moral status and that considerations about moral standing and rights are only applicable to more developed entities with consciousness and sentience. The legal status of preembryos is closely tied to regulations governing assisted reproductive technologies (ART) and embryonic research. In countries where embryonic research is allowed, the legal status of preembryos used for research purposes may be subject to specific regulations and oversight. These regulations often aim to strike a balance between advancing scientific knowledge and respecting ethical considerations. Recently stem cell research and developmental biology have opened up possibilities for generating synthetic gametes, also known as in vitro gametogenesis, which refers to the process of generating functional sperm and eggs outside of the human body through cellular reprogramming or other techniques. June 2023, the possibility of generating artificial embryos from stem cells. The aim is to understand early human development better and potentially use this knowledge to treat various medical conditions and advance reproductive technologies. The present scientific achievements create concern around the potential misuse of this technology, as well as questions about the moral status of these synthetic embryos and the implications for human life.

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