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Dr. Miranda in ‘UNESCO chair in Bioethics 9thWorld Conference’, Naples-Italy

SLS senior faculty member, Dr Martha Miranda recently presented a research paper in ‘UNESCO Chair in Bioethics 9thWorld Conference’ held on November 19-21, 2013, in Naples – Italy. A total of 800 speakers, 1200 participants and more than 40 target groups from 60 Countries, attended this Conference.


Participants were drawn from, Albania, Argentina, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germania, Greece, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jersey, Kenya, Lebanon, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mali, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, The Nederland’s, Turkey, UK, Ukraine, USA.


It was an exceptional event and a wonderful opportunity to network and share information and knowledge and debating about very important topics: informed consent, doctor-patient relationships, euthanasia, organ donation, steam cells, abortion and in vitro fecundation, genetic engineering, patient rights, violence and tortures in immigration, disability, bioethics education for schools and health professionals were only some of the ones discussed.

Discussions of her paper

In her paper titled ‘Assisted Human Reproduction (AHR) and the legal concept of filiation’ Dr Miranda discusses how in recent decades, it has became apparent that sterility is not the only issue to be re-mediated by AHR.  It has also been used in cases where a person desires to be a single parent and where same sex couples wish to have children. These circumstances pose some challenges in the field of law, especially to adjust the legal concepts of family and marriage to the new models proposed by certain trends. Because of these innovations, the legal concept of filiation would in particular be subjected to multiple variations.


Prior to the scientific advances that allow conceiving a child outside the woman’s womb or in an artificial way, filiation was only possible by blood or by adoption. Nowadays, in some countries, the implementation of scientific techniques such as AHR, creates other types of filiation, for example, a “parental project” of a person or a couple (same sex or not), and “surrogacy”.  Problems might arise when a child born by way of AHR wants to know his or her biological parents and, in the same way, when the donor (of the egg or sperm) wants to know the child and be recognized as a father or a mother. In the case of surrogacy, it is also possible that a woman who agreed to lend her womb to carry the baby, wants to keep the child, because in the end, isn’t this baby her son or daughter?


Thus, some questions arise: Is it possible for the Law to provide solutions to the problems posed by AHR?  Is the concept of filiation purely legal or is it also a concept that comes from human anthropology?  As illustrated above, the purpose of the paper was to analyze the implications of AHR techniques and its influence in the legal concept of filiation.