In this paper, we will discuss the prospect of human reproduction achieved with gametes originating from only one person. According to statements by a minority of scientists working on the generation of gametes in vitro, it may become possible to create eggs from men’s non-reproductive cells and sperm from women’s. This would enable, at least in principle, the creation of an embryo from cells obtained from only one individual: ‘solo reproduction’. We will consider what might motivate people to reproduce in this way, and the implications that solo reproduction might have for ethics and policy. We suggest that such an innovation is unlikely to revolutionise reproduction and parenting. Indeed, in some respects it is less revolutionary than in vitro fertilisation as a whole. Furthermore, we show that solo reproduction with in vitro created gametes is not necessarily any more ethically problematic than gamete donation—and probably less so. Where appropriate, we draw parallels with the debate surrounding reproductive cloning. We note that solo reproduction may serve to perpetuate reductive geneticised accounts of reproduction, and that this may indeed be ethically questionable. However, in this it is not unique among other technologies of assisted reproduction, many of which focus on genetic transmission. It is for this reason that a ban on solo reproduction might be inconsistent with continuing to permit other kinds of reproduction that also bear the potential to strengthen attachment to a geneticised account of reproduction. Our claim is that there are at least as good reasons to pursue research towards enabling solo reproduction, and eventually to introduce solo reproduction as an option for fertility treatment, as there are to do so for other infertility related purposes.
This item's license is: Attribution 4.0 International