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"So, what is an embryo?" A comparative study of the views of those asked to donate embryos for hESC research in the UK and Switzerland

Lookup NU author(s): Emerita Professor Erica Haimes, Dr Rouven Porz, Professor Jackie Leach Scully, Professor Christoph Rehmann-Sutter



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. © 2008 Taylor & Francis.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Haimes E, Porz RC, Scully JL, Rehmann-Sutter C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: New Genetics and Society

Year: 2008

Volume: 27

Issue: 2

Pages: 113-126

Date deposited: 31/05/2012

ISSN (print): 1463-6778

ISSN (electronic): 1469-9915


DOI: 10.1080/14636770802077041

Notes: Special issue: Stem Cell Spaces, Places and Flows


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