David Edwin Wildt developed and applied assisted reproductive technologies to conserve rare and endangered wildlife species in the US during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. He advocated genome resource banks to help preserve biodiversity, and he advocated for practical ethics to guide wildlife reproductive biologists when they use technology and environmental planning. Wildt often focused on the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), but he researched greater than fifty vertebrate species. In the early decades of the twenty-first century, he directed the Smithsonian's Conservation Biology Institute Center for Species Survival in Front Royal, Virginia. He researched reproductive biology and population genetics, used assisted reproduction technologies (ART) for wildlife species, and showed researchers how to utilize noninvasive techniques to monitor the hormones in organisms and their reproductive behaviors.
The Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Human Fertilisation and Embryology, commonly called the Warnock Report after the chair of the committee Mary Warnock, is the 1984 publication of a UK governmental inquiry into the social impacts of infertility treatment and embryological research. The birth of Louise Brown in 1978 in Oldham, UK, sparked debate about reproductive and embryological technologies. Brown was conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF), a process of fertilization that occurs outside of the body of the woman. At the time IVF was largely unregulated in the UK, both in law and within the protocol of the National Health Service (NHS), headquartered in London, UK. The Warnock Report recommended, and is credited with, establishing a governmental organization to regulate infertility treatments such as IVF and embryological research in general. In 1990, the UK established this governmental organization as the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) in London.
David Wildt is an animal reproductive biologist who directs the Conservation Biology Institute in Fort Royal, Virginia. In 1986, Wildt argued that artificial reproductive technologies should only be used for species conservation efforts if standard techniques to aid natural reproduction are not effective. Between 1986 and 2001, Wildt revised his views and values primarily in relation to two things: which methods captive breeding programs ought to use, and how reproductive scientists ought to contribute to the larger work of conservation. His arguments became institutionalized in varying species conservation organizations such as the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, DC, the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Captive Breeding Specialist Group, and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, headquartered in Washington, DC.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 established the legal framework that governs infertility treatment, medical services ancillary to infertility treatment such as embryo storage, and all human embryological research performed in the UK. The law also defines a legal concept of the parent of a child conceived with assisted reproductive technologies. Section Five of the Act establishes the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the first of its kind in the world, to enforce and regulate the responsibilities that scientists, doctors, and prospective parents have towards embryos and to each other. Upon introducing the act to the House of Commons, the Secretary of State for Health of the time, Kenneth Clarke, said the bill was in his opinion the most important piece of legislation considered by the government in two decades.
Stanley Paul Leibo studied the cryopreservation of embryos in the US in the twentieth century. Cryopreservation is a method of preserving biological material through freezing. Early in his career, Leibo collaborated with other scientists to study why cells were oftentimes injured during freezing. Later, Leibo and his team accomplished one of the first successful births using previously-frozen mammalian embryos. Leibo continued evolving simpler and more reliable methods of cryopreservation and embryo transfer for many different species over the course of his career, such as the development of a one-step procedure of transferring fertilized embryos between cattle. Leibo’s work to develop simple and reliable ways to cryopreserve cells and embryos enabled its use in a wider scope of research, including agriculture, reproductive medicine, and conservation.
In Jeter v. Mayo, the Court of Appeals of Arizona in 2005 held that a cryopreserved, three-day-old pre-embryo is not a person for purposes of Arizona's wrongful death statutes, and that the Arizona Legislature was best suited to decide whether to expand the law to include cryopreserved pre-embryos. The Court of Appeals affirmed a decision by the Maricopa County Superior Court to dismiss a couple's wrongful death claim after the Mayo Clinic (Mayo) allegedly lost or destroyed several of their cryopreserved pre-embryos. In reaching its decision, the Court of Appeals explored ethical and legal issues relating to cryopreserved pre-embryos, including prior case law, the principles of statutory construction, and the Arizona Legislature's role in balancing the societal interests involved.