Children of Choice: Freedom and the New Reproductive Technologies

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Princeton University Press, 1994 - Medical - 281 pages
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Cloning, genetic screening, embryo freezing, in vitro fertilization, surrogate motherhood, Norplant, RU486 - these are the technologies revolutionizing our reproductive landscape, enabling individuals to conceive or to avoid pregnancy and to plan the timing of their offspring, and even control their characteristics, in ways barely imaginable a generation ago. In this wide-ranging account of the reproductive technologies currently available, John Robertson goes to the heart of issues that confront increasing numbers of people - single individuals or couples, donors or surrogates, gays or heterosexuals - who seek to redefine family, parenthood, the experience of pregnancy, and life itself. Through the lens of procreative liberty, he analyzes the ethical, legal, and social controversies that surround each major technology, then determines to what extent individuals should be free to pursue the procedures available and whether government should be authorized to restrict them. Reproductive freedom, Robertson maintains, has traditionally been a right taken for granted. Yet these new technologies, helpful as they may be to many people, carry a price - be it the financial, physical, or emotional strain that in vitro fertilization places on couples or the social danger posed by genetically shaping offspring characteristics. They also open up a multitude of fascinating legal questions: Do frozen embryos have the right to be born? Should parents select offspring traits? May a government make long-acting contraceptives compulsory for welfare recipients? Should a woman have the right to abort so she can provide fetal tissue to others, either altruistically or for financial gain? If one member of alesbian couple has a child through artificial insemination, does the nonbiological parent have any rearing rights or duties in the event that the relationship ends? Robertson examines the broad range of consequences of each reproductive technology and its possible ethical and legal implications. He establishes guidelines for its use by weighing the chance that the technology may enrich and give meaning to an individual's life, against the harm it may cause the larger community. Arguing for the primacy of reproductive freedom in most cases, Robertson offers a timely, multifaceted analysis of the competing interests at stake for patients, couples, doctors, policymakers, lawyers, and ethicists, and shows how they can best be reconciled.

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Children of choice: freedom and the new reproductive technologies

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Procreative freedom is "the freedom to decide whether or not to have offspring and to control the use of one's reproductive capacity.'' Robertson, a legal bioethicist who teaches at the University of ... Read full review

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