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Unformatted text preview: 19 FEBRUARY 2010 VOL 327 SCIENCE www.sciencemag.org 962 POLICY FORUM R ecent National Institutes of Health (NIH) guidelines regarding human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines created from embryos remaining after infer- tility treatment ( 1 ) are expected to increase substantially the number of hESC lines eli- gible for U.S. federal funding. Although the guidelines require informed consent from embryo donors for derivation of hESC lines, such consent is not required from third-party donors (not an intended parent) whose gam- etes were used to create the embryos. This is in contrast to many state, national, and interna- tional recommendations ( 2 8 ). We argue that dispositional authorization after disclosure regarding hESC research should be obtained from third-party gamete donors, but that the requirements may be more exible and less complex than for informed consent. Need for Gamete Donor Authorization Gamete donors for in vitro fertilization (IVF) programs sign a form giving the IVF patient legal authority to determine the dis- position of embryos created with their gam- etes after infertility treatment has been com- pleted. The unrestricted legal power of such blanket dispositional authorization includes options that were not specifi cally mentioned to the donor. However, such legal authority may be ethically problematic if the gamete donor was not toldand therefore may not appreciatewhat options the IVF patient might choose, including hESC research. Some donors may object to research using embryos made from their gametes ( 9 ). One reason underlying such objec- tions may be that some donors may regard gametes as having special status compared with somatic cells because of their reproductive potential, with reproduction being a highly personal and private matter. However, gametes are not typ- ically granted the same special status as embryos, which may be perceived to have the moral status of persons ( 10 ). Using embryos for research with- out permission of third-party oocyte donors could fail to respect donors as persons ( 11 ), breaching a fundamental principle of bio- ethics ( 12 ). We analyze below two other models for gamete donors to allow IVF patients to make decisions about embryos remaining after completion of infertility treatment. Informed Consent Informed consent is an opt-in process; individuals are not required to participate as patients or research participants and agree to only those procedures specifi ed in the con- sent form. For instance, oocyte donors give informed consent to the clinical procedures of ovarian stimulation and oocyte retrieval ( 13 ). However, detailed consent forms are not required for many important, very private decisions currently made by third-party gam- ete donors during dispositional authorization (e.g., forgoing parental rights to children con- ceived with their gametes and allowing the IVF patient to donate embryos to another infertility patient). It would be unfair to require gamete donors to follow stricter stan-...
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This note was uploaded on 01/15/2012 for the course BSC 3402 taught by Professor Brockmann,h during the Fall '08 term at University of Florida.
- Fall '08