February 24, 2024

Why not use artificial gametes, asks British bioethicist

A UK bioethicist has used the leading journal Science to argue for the right to use artificial sperm and eggs derived from human embryonic stem cells. In an article in the latest issue, John Harris, of the University of Manchester, and a German colleague contend that artificial gametes would have two compelling uses. First, they would allow infertile couples to have genetically related offspring, provided that the cost and the safety levels were about the same as conventional IVF. Second, they would allow same- sex couples to have children.

Dr Harris dismisses the notion that a child would be harmed by this novel technology. “There is no a priori reason to prefer the natural [way of reproduction], for the natural per se is morally neutral. The whole practice of medicine is a comprehensive attempt to frustrate the course of nature. If we always preferred the natural as a matter of principle, we would have to abjure medicine altogether.”