Respect for Donors of Human Embryos and Gametes

Like other modern technologies associated with human reproductive capacities, hES cell research often involves donated embryos or oocytes. There is a set of minimal conditions that applies to the process of obtaining embryos and gametes for research purposes, normally from in vitro fertilization clinics. Those conditions are reflected in policies, guidelines, and practices in the United States and elsewhere. They include restrictions on monetary and other inducements, separation between clinical decisions and decisions to donate, and the requirement of voluntary informed consent of donors through a process that has been approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB), as specified in federal regulations for the protection of human subjects in research (45 CFR 46.107; see Chapter 4 for further discussion). A measure of respect for donors is the assurance that research using donated materials is limited to qualified investigators and that studies have scientific merit. Those issues are discussed in greater depth below and in Chapter 5.

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