Prof David Albertini

Growing human eggs is positive and not an ethical problem

Fri 09 Feb 2018
By Cara Bentley

Human eggs have been fully grown in a lab for the first time and a Christian bioethics consultant says there are not ethical problems yet.  

The development could help women who have gone through chemotherapy at a young age, as the drug can damage eggs.

The research means scientists can mature eggs at a much faster rate and can save ovarian tissue from girls for later.

In order to understand the ethics of this development, Premier spoke to Philippa Taylor, a Christian and bioethics consultant.

She said there were no ethical concerns with this from a Christian point of view: “It’s really important to distinguish between an egg and a sperm and an embryo and we believe strongly that an embryo is the beginning of human life. However, working and researching on egg and sperm, as they aren’t individual human lives, we have very little ethical concerns about that.”

“I think on the whole this is a good thing.”

Philippa Taylor explained why she thought it was an encouraging discovery: “There could be real benefits for some people, particularly young girls or people who are going through cancer treatment or chemotherapy and that destroys any chance of having their own eggs and growing eggs cells so if you can remove ovarian tissue, grow some egg cells outside the womb and implant them after the treatment then that could be very positive.”

Taylor did highlight one area where there could be ethical problems in the future - if it extended to allowing older women to have children: “These ovarian cells would have been removed before she was menopausal. And then she could basically say ‘well I haven’t got a partner now’, or ‘I’m concentrating on my career, I’m not able to have baby now or carry one’ and so therefore she could put that aside and years later when she feels ready to have a child, then she could have one.”

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