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Glossary and Bibliography for parts 1 & 2 of the Special Section -- Human Destiny

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Assisted reproductive technologies (ART)

Technological reproductive procedures including in vitro fertilization (IVF), gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT), zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT) and intracytolasmic sperm injection (ICSI).

Assisted hatching

A procedure often used in conjunction with in vitro fertilization in which the outer coating (zona pellucidea) of the embryo is thinned to help it "hatch" after it is placed in the uterus. Pregnancy begins after the embryo hatches from the zona and implants in the uterus, usually around the seventh day. (Assisted hatching is especially useful for achieving pregnancy in women 37 or older, because their bodies often produce thicker zonas, making it harder for embryos to implant in the uterine cavity.) See www.advancedfertility.com/hatchima.htm for photos of this process.


An embryo about five days after fertilization in humans, when a fluid-filled internal cavity appears in the mass of cells. The surface cells will become the placenta, and the inner cells will become the fetus.


A sexual reproduction, accomplished by fusing a denucleated egg (one with the nucleus, which contains the genetic material, removed) with a cell from the organism being cloned.


The product of an egg fertilized with sperm. The term is used as the baby develops up to the eighth week of pregnancy.

Fallopian tubes

The hollow tubes through which the embryo travels from the ovary to the uterus, or womb. In the natural process, fertilization of the egg usually occurs in the fallopian tube.


Egg or sperm.


Penetration of the egg by a sperm cell.

Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT)

A procedure similar to in vitro fertilization except that eggs are retrieved and inserted into the fallopian tube, along with collected sperm, with a catheter. Because fertilization takes place within the woman’s body, the procedure is [not] approved by the Vatican, provided the sperm is collected during sexual intercourse (usually with a perforated condom).

Gene therapy

A medical correction of a gene or genes that are defective and producing, or are capable or producing, disease.

Genetic enhancement

A procedure that alters genes to produce a desired non-medical result

Germ Line Genetic Procedures

Alterations to genes that are permanently encoded in the reproductive cells.

In vitro fertilization (IVF)

A procedure in which a woman’s eggs are removed from her body, fertilized outside using sperm from her husband or another donor, and then transferred back to her body.

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)

A procedure in which the sperm is injected directly into the cytoplasm of the egg; used where low sperm numbers or abnormal sperm movement make the usual process of in vitro fertilization unworkable because the sperm does not penetrate the egg.



Somatic Genetic Procedures

Treatments that correct genetic problems in a given individual without affecting the reproductive cells.

Stem cells

Versatile cells, sometimes described as primative, or primordal, that are capable of reproducing themselves and also of growing into various kinds of body tissue. Some stem cells are pluripotent, capable of producing several kinds of tissue. They can also be totipotent, capable of producing a full human being.

Zona pellucida

Outer coating of the fertilized egg and embryo before it implants in the uterus.


Fertilized egg.

Zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT)

A procedure that begins with in vitro fertilization, followed by transfer of embryos to a fallopian tube by loading them into a catheter.


Resources for further reading on legal, ethical or theological issues related to biotechnology:

The Clone Age: Adventures in the New World of Reproductive Technology, Lori. B. Andrews (Henry Holt, 1999).

Human Cloning: Religious Responses, Ronald Cole-Turner, editor (Westminster John Knox Press, 1997).

Human Genome Research and the Challenge of Contingent Future Persons, Jan Heller (Creighton University Press, 1996). Note: Contains an extensive bibliography.

The Ethics of Human Cloning, Leon Kass (American Enterprise Institute, 1998).

Medical Ethics: Sources of Catholic Teaching, Kevin O’Rourke, O.P. and Philip Boyle, editors (Georgetown University Press, 1999).

Enhancing Human Traits: Ethical and Social Implications, Erik Parens, editor (Georgetown University Press, 1998).

Harnessing the Gene and Remaking the World: The Biotech Century, Jeremy Rifkin (Penguin Putnam Inc., 1999).

Made in Whose Image? Genetic Engineering and Christian Ethics, Thomas A. Shannon (Prometheus, forthcoming).

Bioethics, Thomas A. Shannon, editor (Paulist Press, 1993).

Remaking Eden: How Genetic Engineering and Cloning Will Transform the American Family, Lee M. Silver (Avon, 1998).

The following journals regularly publish articles related to ethical issues in ongoing research: Hastings Center Report, Lancet, Journal of the American Medical Association, Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, New England Journal of Medicine.

National Catholic Reporter, October 15, 1999 [corrected 11/19/1999]