Third party assisted conception: an African perspective

Theor Med Bioeth. 2008;29(5):297-306. doi: 10.1007/s11017-008-9082-0.


The central importance of reproduction in all human cultures has given rise to many methods and techniques of assisting reproduction or overcoming infertility. Such methods and techniques have achieved spectacular successes in the Western world, where processes like in vitro fertilization (IVF) constitute a remarkable breakthrough. In this paper, the author attempts to reflect critically on assisted reproduction technologies (ART) from the background and perspective of African culture, a culture within which human reproduction is given the highest priority but which also exhibits a highly ambivalent attitude to modern technology-assisted methods of reproduction. The author considers the ethical crux of reproductive technologies to be linked to the issue of the moral status of the human embryo and argues that a morally significant line of demarcation cannot be drawn between embryos and other categories of humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Africa
  • Cameroon
  • Cultural Characteristics*
  • Developed Countries
  • Embryo, Mammalian
  • Female
  • Fertilization in Vitro / ethics
  • Fertilization in Vitro / trends
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted / ethics*
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted / trends*