Contemporary Debates in Bioethics: Ethics of (Emerging) Reproductive Technologies


Since the 1960s, opportunities for women and men to manage, limit, prolong or augment their fertility have increased dramatically through methods such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF), social egg/sperm freezing, surrogacy and other strategies to reorder human reproduction in the laboratory. This major advance, which medically assisted reproduction has made over recent decades, involved the development of a wide range of technologies, which enabled people who were formerly incapable of procreating to have biologically- and/or genetically-related offspring. Such technologies intervene at various points in the reproductive process by replacing or enhancing “natural” biological functions. This no longer occurs only in cases where a person is infertile owing to illness, but also in cases of social infertility owing to age, sexual orientation, career plans, etc. 

However, these technologies and practices also raise numerous and enormous ethical, regulatory and social challenges, e.g.: Should we genetically engineer “better” people? What are the ethical issues related to human embryo research? Who should have access to assisted reproductive technologies; for example, are age limits ethically justified?  What is it actually about the desire to have a genetically related child? To what extent could this wish be critically challenged? Is maternal autonomy always ensured during pregnancy and childbirth in Switzerland? 

This seminar will critically engage with these and many other crucial questions from interdisciplinary perspectives. A number of different technologies and practices such as uterus transplantation, human embryo research, CRISPR genome editing technologies, social egg/sperm freezing, mitochondrial replacement techniques, prenatal tests, in-vitro gametogenesis etc. will be used as case studies to discuss the ethical, social and political challenges and implications of their development and application. Speakers will be leading international experts from the fields of reproductive medicine, ethics, law, etc. 

Location: Online class. ZOOM link is provided via ADAM or by writing to Johanna Eichinger (






Prof. Dr. Bernice Elger
Director of the Institute for Biomedical Ethics, University of Basel

Johanna Eichinger, Research Assistant and PhD Candidate, Institute for Biomedical Ethics, University of Basel, CH


Reproductive Autonomy

Dimensions, scope and limits, with particular reference to pregnancy and birth

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Andrea Büchler
Chair for Private and Comparative Law
Vice Dean for International Relations of the Faculty of Law
University of Zurich

Chair of the Swiss National Advisory Commission on Biomedical Ethics, CH


Prenatal tests and disability

Prof. Jackie Leach Scully PhD, FAcSS, FRSA
Professor of Bioethics and Director, Disability Innovation Institute
University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

 Visiting Professor, Policy Ethics and Life Sciences Research Centre
Newcastle University, UK


The origin of gametes and parenthood

Prof. Dr. med. Christian De Geyter
Division Chief and Research Group Leader
of Gynecological Endocrinology and Reproductive Medicine,
University Hospital Basel, CH


In vitro gametogenesis: ethical issues

Dr. Seppe Segers
Postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Philosophy and Moral Science, Ghent University

Secretary of Bioethics Institute Ghent, BE


Involuntary Childlessness, Suffering and Equality of Resources: An Argument for Expanding State-Funded Fertility Treatment Provision

Dr. Giulia Cavaliere
Lecturer in Professional Practice, Values and EthicsLancaster Medical School, UK

17.5.2021Transnational Surrogacy

Dr. Annika König
Postdoctoral Researcher, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Freie Universität Berlin, DEU


Social Freezing

Prof. Dr. Veerle Provoost
Professor of Empirical Research in Moral Science and Ethics / Bioethics
Ghent University, BE