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Showing posts from January, 2017

Future Questions of Personhood

Parashat Vayechi 2016 Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz
Future Questions of Personhood
There were two recent newspaper articles that prompted me to think deeply, and perhaps by my own admission, conservatively, about the issues they raised. Both dealt with cutting-edge technological advancement that challenge our deepest-held notions of what it means to be human.
The first article discusses the future of fertility treatments through in vitro gametogenesis (IVG). In contrast to the conventional technology of IVF in which a woman’s ova are used, IVG uses generic tissue cells (such as skin) engineered into reproductive (sperm and egg) cells. The consequence of this new technology is that instead of having a few embryos available for implantation, a woman could have an unlimited amount of embryos at her disposal. To be able to generate embryos cheaply could be a blessing, democratising fertility treatments and help those after chemotherapy. Ethicists warn, however, of a morally fraught side effect: so-…