Socio-ethical Aspects of the IVF-Stem Cell Interface

Speaker: Prof Erica Haimes # PEALS, University of Newcastle

11th Apr 2011

15:30 - 17:00

Seminar Rm 1.06, Old Surgeons' Hall, HSY

Change of date - this seminar was originally scheduled for Monday 4th April 2011.


This paper presents findings from our Medical Research Council-funded project which focuses on a unique scheme run by the local fertility centre in which women undergoing IVF volunteer to ‘share’ their eggs for somatic cell nuclear transfer research in exchange for reduced IVF fees (the ‘ES scheme’).

Both the scheme and our research take place in a landscape shaped by policy, practice, and ethical debates located at the interface of IVF treatment and stem cell science, including well-established arguments about the use of human embryos in research.  The ‘ES scheme’ creates additional questions: is the reduction of IVF fees an inducement to donate eggs; does the reduction compromise the autonomy of the egg provider to give full and free consent; does the scheme lead to an exploitation of the low income IVF patient; does egg ‘sharing’ amount to egg ‘selling’; is stem cell science taking resources away from IVF treatment?

Our research provides insights from the actual and potential egg providers and shows how the moral landscape shifts once their views are taken into account.


Erica Haimes was the Founding Executive Director of the PEALS (Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences) Research Centre (1998-2008) where she is now Professorial Fellow; she is also Professor of Sociology in the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, Newcastle University. Her research interests include: interdisciplinary research on social, ethical and legal aspects of the life sciences; reproductive and genetic technologies; the socio-ethical aspects of the provision of human tissue for research, and the relationship between states, families and medicine with a focus on assisted conception. She runs the the PARTS (Provision and Acquisition of Reproductive Tissue for Science) International Research Network.

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