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.
Baroness Mary Warnock of Weeke, a philosopher and crossbench member and Life Peer of the United Kingdom's House of Lords, participated in several national British committees of inquiry that dealt with ethical and policy issues surrounding animal experimentation, pollution, genetics, and euthanasia to educational policies for children with special needs. One of these was the Committee of Inquiry into Human Fertilization and Embryology, of which Warnock was the chair. The 1985 Warnock Report issued subsequent to this inquiry led to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act of 1990, passed in the British House of Commons, and to the creation of the UK Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority in 1991. Warnock has published a number of books on topics including existentialism, imagination, reproductive rights and research ethics, euthanasia, the place of religion in politics, as well as several memoirs.
The Assisted Human Reproduction Act (AHR Act) is a piece of federal legislation passed by the Parliament of Canada. The Act came into force on 29 March 2004. Many sections of the Act were struck down following a 2010 Supreme Court of Canada ruling on its constitutionality. The AHR Act sets a legislative and regulatory framework for the use of reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization and related services including surrogacy and gamete donation. The Act also regulates research in Canada involving in vitro embryos. The AHR Act was the first law in Canada to regulate the use of reproductive technologies and related research. Most other Canadian policies on AHR rely on the Act and its provisions. By 2015, Canada was one of only a few countries worldwide to comprehensively address assisted human reproduction through policy.
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.
In June 2015, the Ethics Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, or ASRM, published “Use of reproductive technology for sex selection for nonmedical reasons” in Fertility and Sterility. In the report, the Committee presents arguments for and against the use of reproductive technology for sex selection for any reason besides avoiding sex-linked disorders, or genetic disorders that only affect a particular sex. When couples have no family history of a sex-linked disease, the use of reproductive technology for sex selection raises ethical questions about the application of sex selection technology to fulfill parental desires. “Use of reproductive technology for sex selection for nonmedical purposes” examines the ethical debate surrounding sex selection for nonmedical purposes and is an educational and ethical reference for physicians who are considering offering those services in their practices.
Karl Oskar Illmensee studied the cloning and reproduction of fruit flies, mice, and humans in the US and Europe during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Illmensee used nuclear transfer techniques (cloning) to create early mouse embryos from adult mouse cells, a technique biologists used in later decades to help explain how embryonic cells function during development. In the early 1980s, Illmensee faced accusations of fraud when others were unable to replicate the results of his experiments with cloned mouse embryos. Illmensee also worked with human embryos, investigating how embryos split to form identical twins.
Gattaca is a 1997 science fiction film produced in the US that depicts a future society that uses reproductive technology and genetic engineering in order to produce genetically enhanced human beings. By selectively choosing certain genes, scientists and physicians ensure that individuals born using reproductive technologies have desirable physical and psychological traits and prevent undesirable traits. The film tells a story of Vincent Freeman, a man conceived without the aid of reproductive technology, who works to overcome his genetic disadvantages compared to his enhanced counterparts in order to achieve his dream of a career in space travel. The film was directed and written by Andrew Niccol and released by Columbia Pictures in Culver City, California, on 24 October 1997. Gattaca addresses the ethical uses of biotechnology, gene manipulation, and genetic engineering, and the film helps illustrate the debate over human genetic engineering research and implications.
The Boys from Brazil is a science fiction film based on the novel of the same name by Ira Levin about an underground neo-Nazi society in South America trying to clone Adolf Hitler, the dictator of Nazi Germany during World War II, to restore the Nazi movement. The film was directed by Franklin Schaffner and released in 1978 by 20th Century Fox in Los Angeles, California. The Boys from Brazil is a film that was one of the first films to depict cloning, and to discuss the ethical implications of genetic engineering, cloning, and eugenics.