Status of Human Embryo in vitro as Ethical and Legal Issue: Religious Roots of Diverging Approaches

Keywords: human embryo in vitro, ontological status, legal status, moral status, ethical and legal regulation, genetic research, Christian doctrine, idea of God-likeness of man, technological change


The paper is focused on the ontological status of the human embryo in vitro, a question that determines its ethical and legal status that is in turn of exceptional importance for ethical and legal regulation of manipulations with the embryo in the course of academic research as well as in clinical practice of assisted reproductive technologies. The author discusses different approaches (Roman Catholic, Protestant, Greek Orthodox, etc.) to the issue of embryo status that have emerged in different parts of the world in the course of history from the perspective of religious anthropology. It is argued thesis that the idea of God-likeness of human person in the Christian culture giving a powerful impetus to the scholar and technological change originally contained profound ideological premises capable of inhibiting the most dangerous intrusions into the nature of human nature created after the likeness of God. One such premise is the idea that the human embryo is attributed with a soul from the moment of its conception. Those countries, whose cultural matrix does not provide for such moral, religious constraints, have a competitive advantage in the globalized research and technological context that in a sense concerns the human civilization as such. This circumstance has become a contributing factor in the emerging change in the international ethical and legal regulation setting the limits to genetic research of the
embryonic development of human person. The main vector of the change has been determined by liberalization of former constraints date back to the dogmatic Christian view of the world. Moreover, the latest innovations in this area demonstrate an intention of the medical and biological academic community to share the responsibility for the development of regulatory policies concerning human embryo research
with specialists of other branches of sciences and with public at large.


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Author Biography

Valentina Lapaeva, Institute of State and Law, Russian Academy of Sciences

Doctor of Sciences (Law), Chief Researcher.


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How to Cite
LapaevaV. (2023). Status of Human Embryo in vitro as Ethical and Legal Issue: Religious Roots of Diverging Approaches. Legal Issues in the Digital Age, 4(1), 4-23. Retrieved from