Personhood and Embryo Adoption

Nelson, Thomas K.
August 2012
Linacre Quarterly;Aug2012, Vol. 79 Issue 3, p261
The morality of embryo adoption, or heterologous embryo transfer for rescue, remains controversial despite the issuance of Dignitas personae (2008). When evaluating such bioethical controversies, it is crucial to take account of the personal order. Personalism provides a fresh and heretofore underdeveloped perspective toward resolving this polarized issue in bioethics. I will argue that it is not discriminatory to oppose embryo adoption on the basis of the heterology between rescuer and embryo because the lack of genetic relatedness reflects a more profound lack of personal relatedness. The persons involved in embryo adoption are not meant for the bodily relationship of pregnancy because of the incommunicability of relationships that involve the total gift of the human body. From the perspective of biology, pregnancy is natural life support for the embryo. From the perspective of personhood, pregnancy is fundamentally a relationship of embodied persons, one that is irreplaceable and radically exclusive. The clinical implications of this analysis will be discussed.


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