Ethical considerations for clinical embryology
© Cambridge University Press 2013. Introduction The field of clinical embryology is advancing year by year, with novel treatments rapidly translating from ‘bench to bedside’. In addition, these scientific developments are being made in a highly emotionally charged environment in which the individuals seeking these treatments are often naturally desperate to do anything to be able to conceive. However, as with all areas of clinical medicine, it is vital that such treatments are practised within a carefully determined ethical framework. Indeed, many of the newer treatments frequently challenge the existing frameworks, and it is therefore important that anyone studying or practising clinical embryology does so with a good understanding of the ethical context. The aim of this chapter is to provide an overview of medical ethics as they apply to this field. It starts by defining the scope of medical ethics and clarifying some misunderstandings. Definitions While there is a clear overlap between ethics and moral philosophy, the main purpose of medical ethics is to clarify the moral issues, give principles on which to act and guidance in the detail of making right decisions. It is therefore not just the domain of the academic ethicist, but instead is a practical subject in which every member of the clinical multidisciplinary team must engage.