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Egenis · Events

Context sensitive Ethics in Reprogenetics-Views of patients, Health Professionals and the Public

Seminar   21.11.2008






Professor Tanja Krones, University of Marburg

Organised by



University of Exeter,Egenis,Byrne House,St Germans Road,Exeter, EX4 4PJRoom no: GF7, Byrne House

Event details

Time: 3:30 - 5:00 PMContext sensitive Ethics in Reprogenetics-Views of patients, Health Professionals and the Public

In Germany, conflicts concerning the field of prenatal diagnosis and reprogenetics have been vigorously debated in parliament, the media and scientific circles during the last years. Comparing German legislation and regulation of reprogenetics with the British situation, German law seems quite permissive in regard to abortion policies but quite restrictive as regards the whole field of reprogenetics, such as stem cell research, fertility treatment and preimplantation genetic diagnosis. Bioethical argumentation in Germany on these issues is strongly influenced by deontological thinking, ascribing dignity to the early embryo, also visible in the Embryo Protection Act. Due to this act, implemented in the same year as the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act in 1990, neither preimplantation genetic diagnosis, nor blastocyst culture to improve implantation rates, nor egg or embryo donation are permitted. Derivation of stem cells from supernumerary embryos is also prohibited not only on grounds of the embryo protection act but also according to the act on stem cell research, first put into force in 2002. We took a different approach in our projects on context-sensitive bioethics in the field of reprogenetics. We combined a multifaceted research strategy of narrative and semi-structured qualitative interviews with experts (human geneticists, gynaecologists, paediatricians, midwifes and ethicists), patients (IVF couples, high genetic risk couples) and the public (non affected couples) and representative surveys of these groups, using categories mentioned in qualitative interviews and in the literature to explore attitudes and experiences towards the field of reprogenetics and prenatal diagnosis. In a coherence analysis, we discuss divergences, conflicts and consensuses between bioethical and bioethical debates and views of directly affected patients, experts and the public towards these issues. In a recent survey, we also explored attitudes of stem cell researchers on the beginning of human life and their situation in Germany.Our results are discussed from a broader perspective of a context sensitive, pragmatic approach to ethics differing from the still predominant `applied ethics´ model in various aspects.

Further details