Balancing animal welfare and assisted reproduction: ethics of preclinical animal research for testing new reproductive technologies

Verna Jans*, Wybo Dondorp, Ellen Goossens, Heidi Mertes, Guido Pennings, Guido de Wert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Web of Science)


In the field of medically assisted reproduction (MAR), there is a growing emphasis on the importance of introducing new assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) only after thorough preclinical safety research, including the use of animal models. At the same time, there is international support for the three R's (replace, reduce, refine), and the European Union even aims at the full replacement of animals for research. The apparent tension between these two trends underlines the urgency of an explicit justification of the use of animals for the development and preclinical testing of new ARTs. Considering that the use of animals remains necessary for specific forms of ART research and taking account of different views on the moral importance of helping people to have a genetically related child, we argue that, in principle, the importance of safety research as part of responsible innovation outweighs the limited infringement of animal wellbeing involved in ART research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-545
Number of pages9
JournalMedicine Health Care and Philosophy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • Ethics
  • Assisted reproductive technologies
  • Responsible innovation
  • Animal research
  • The three Rs
  • IVF

Cite this