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Utilitarian Ethical Theory's View on the Latest Technological Developments in Assisted Reproductive Field

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As science and knowledge progresses and new technologies are developed, new ways of conceiving and bringing human life into this world have scientifically advanced; this is with the help of assisted reproductive technology (ART), that includes IVF, Surrogacy and human cloning. These technologies have had different reactions according to how one percepts life, including the Utilitarian viewpoint.

Utilitarianism’s general concept supports actions that are useful and beneficial to the majority, meaning that if an act’s advantages outweigh the disadvantages it should be done. However, Utilitarianism is divided into two beliefs, Act Utilitarianism, that values a good act according to the consequences of the action; and Rule Utilitarianism, which states that an action is good if it leads to greater good and happiness of the common. When this moral theory is applied to the actions of ART, the Utilitarian believers would say that if this technology has more benefits than harms, it should be proceeded, but if there are problems that overcome the benefits, it should not be ensued.

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During in vintro fertilization (IVF), the conceiving of a child is done outside the female body. Once a number of eggs are extracted from the women’s ovaries, they are fused manually with the male sperms on a Petri dish to fertilize. The developing embryos are then put in the woman’s uterus for it to bind to the uterine wall and for a pregnancy to follow. This process is very expensive and there is a high chance that it will not work; however according to Utilitarianism, the happiness of having a baby for a couple that is not able to conceive through an intercourse outweighs the disadvantages of this procedure .

The same ethical opinion of utilitarianism applies for surrogacy, where an arrangement is done for the male sperm to be injected into another woman that is willing to donate an egg and carry the baby during the pregnancy making her the biological mother. When the baby is born, it is given to the couple (biological father and adoptive mother), that have every legal right for the baby, while the surrogate mother could be compensated for her service, or she could do so out of her free will, as agreed on the legal contract.

However, human cloning is still a very sensitive subject that is very debatable. In this light, a utilitarian would argue that one needs to look at both the benefits and the setbacks of such action, where a human DNA is copied and made into a new embryo that is deposited into a womb of a women without the need for fertilization, since it is an asexual process. While this technology would bring happiness to the infertile couple or it would be suitable for individuals that require an organ donor, clones can be used for human testing and lack uniqueness as they an exact copy of their parent. With these factors in mind, a utilitarian would argue that human cloning should not be done as some disadvantages might overweight the benefits of such technology .

In my opinion, I agree with the Utilitarian Ethical theory about ART, that agrees with in vintro fertilization and surrogacy, while still being cautious about human cloning as it is still a recently developed technology that might have negative effects on the offspring resulting from this technology.


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