Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

Sociology and Social Policy

Doing embryo ethics

January 2004 - December 2006

Doing Embryo Ethics: safety and efficacy in research and practice

This project explored the ethics of embryo research and assisted conception as experienced by professionals working in these fields in both the public and private sectors. We explored professionals' accounts of their values and how they actively negotiated ethical codes and rules in the course of their day-to-day work.

We were especially interested in how practitioners managed the codes and rules set out by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), public concerns about their work, and their own informal 'moral thinking'.

The project was based on three periods of observation at an embryo research laboratory and at two IVF clinics, as well as fifty-two interviews with clinicians, scientists, nurses, counsellors, administrators and representatives of the HFEA.

Project Publications

Kerr, A. (2008) 'Assisted Conception and the Audit Culture' Human Fertility. Volume 11, Issue 1 2008, pages 9-16

Kerr, A. (2009). A problem shared…? Teamwork, autonomy and error in assisted conception. Social Science & Medicine, 69(12), 1741-1749.

Kerr, A. (2013). Body work in assisted conception: exploring public and private settings. Sociology of health & illness, 35(3), 465-478.

Kerr, A., & Franklin, S. (2006). Genetic ambivalence: expertise, uncertainty and communication in the context of new genetic technologies. New technologies in healthcare: challenge, change and innovation. Palgrave, London, 40-56.


Regulating Assisted Conception Services: Benefit or Burden? Royal College of Nursing Fertility Nurses Group Annual Conference, 7th February 2008

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