The Ethical-Theological and Legal Aspects of in vitro Fertilization

Background: It has become evident that the fertility of both men and women is decreasing at an accelerating pace over the last decades. Currently, 17% of Greek couples encounter fertility problems, but thanks to in vitro fertilization (IVF), some infertile couples have the possibly of becoming parents. Aim: The aim of this literature review was to explore the ethical and religious questions related to the application of IVF, and to highlight the philosophy of the Greek legislation in relation to assisted reproduction. Method: A literature review was conducted covering the period 1978-2010, based on both review and research articles and derived from the MEDLINE, SCOPUS and ΙΑΤΡΟΤΕΚ databases, using as key words: bioethics, in vitro fertilization, surrogate motherhood, age and assisted reproduction, legislation. Results: The most important issues related to IVF which were reported to give rise to ethical dilemmas were the following: the intervention of a third person in the reproductive process with the donation of genetic material, surrogate motherhood, reproduction in women of advanced age, the preservation of embryos, the raising of children by single mothers or homosexual couples, and experimentation on embryos. The Orthodox religious dogma maintains that people should accept the problem of sterility as divine will and supports the adoption of poor children, but it accepts the method of IVF which gives appropriate respect to the embryos. Investigation of the legal aspects revealed two basic innovations in Greece: the acceptance of alternative family forms, such as the one-parent family, and the recognition of family relations which are based, not essentially on biological origin or genetic facts, but on the will of each person in the relationship. Conclusions: The moral questions that result from the application of in vitro fertilization in humans should be faced so as to ensure the respect of human’s freedom and human’s right of having descendants based on the data of medicine, biology and bioethics’ rules. Also, the better education of health professionals on bioethics’ issues, can help them to face the moral and legal questions raised by the application of assisted reproduction’s methods in humans. The religious approach on such issues is undertaken on the basis of the anthropologic teaching of fathers of church.

Category: Volume 49, N 3
Hits: 366 Hits
Created Date: 15-09-2010
Authors: George Katsimigas , Evridiki Kaba