Reproductive Ethics

Reproductive Technologies 101

Infertility is often not considered a “disease” in our society, yet it causes great pain in couples who desire to begin a family. Couples are infertile when they have actively tried to conceive without success for a year, a condition that affects 10–15% of the U.S. population.[1],[2] Treatments designed to help couples conceive are referred to as Assisted Reproductive Technologies, or ART.

Podcast Episode: 
71

The Costs of Technology in Women's Health, Part II

Our technological society, ruled as it is by the technological imperative, is actively engaged in the pursuit of progress regardless of the cost.  This progress is often ill-defined; we are “committed to the quest for continually improved means to carelessly unexamined ends.”  While cost-benefit analyses are frequently performed to ascertain the efficiency of progressive techniques in terms of monetary value, seldom do we truly count the immaterial costs of progress.  One area of medicine where these changes are vividly portrayed is the arena of women’s reproductive health where to the goals of life, health, and happiness, “a perfect child of our own” is added.  Here, too, we have failed to count the immaterial costs of such a project.  We’ve failed to see how our blind pursuit of elusive but noble goals is threatening not only the profession of medicine, but the very nature of our humanity as well.  This paper will explore some of the costs of technology in women’s reproductive health—costs to the art of medicine as well as the nature of marriage, reproduction, and children.

Podcast Episode: 
62

The Costs of Technology in Women's Health, Part I

Our technological society, ruled as it is by the technological imperative, is actively engaged in the pursuit of progress regardless of the cost.  This progress is often ill-defined; we are “committed to the quest for continually improved means to carelessly unexamined ends.”  While cost-benefit analyses are frequently performed to ascertain the efficiency of progressive techniques in terms of monetary value, seldom do we truly count the immaterial costs of progress.  One area of medicine where these changes are vividly portrayed is the arena of women’s reproductive health where to the goals of life, health, and happiness, “a perfect child of our own” is added.  Here, too, we have failed to count the immaterial costs of such a project.  We’ve failed to see how our blind pursuit of elusive but noble goals is threatening not only the profession of medicine, but the very nature of our humanity as well.  This paper will explore some of the costs of technology in women’s reproductive health—costs to the art of medicine as well as the nature of marriage, reproduction, and children.

Podcast Episode: 
61

Chiseling Away at David

Michelangelo’s David is a fitting metaphor for what it means to be human.  Considering assisted reproductive technologies, genetic testing and intervention, and using technology for purposes beyond therapy, we are chiseling away at the David that we know.  A brief look at the art and the science through the lens of bioethics is the theme of this presentation.

Podcast Episode: 
60

Parenthood Denied

It was a short news item, buried on page 19 of the April 11, 2007 edition of the Chicago Tribune, dateline ­Strasbourg. “Woman loses rights to frozen embryos.”  Another predictable story on stem cell research in France?  But, this was not a French biotech dispute. Natallie Evans is a British woman who was left infertile after ovarian cancer treatments.  Prior to her ovaries being removed, she and Howard Johnston, her fiancé, created embryos via in vitro fertilization, and had them frozen.

Podcast Episode: 
54

Book Link: Begotten or Made?

In this special edition of The Bioethics Podcast, Kevin Vanhoozer, PhD, offers a short review of Oliver O’Donovan’s classic Begotten or Made? Human Procreation and Medical Technique.

Podcast Episode: 
52

Dr. Joy Riley Interviews Phillipa Taylor

Dr. D. Joy Riley, Executive Director of the Tennessee Center for Bioethics and Culture, interviews Phillipa Taylor, consultant on bioethics for the London-based organization Care.

Podcast Episode: 
41

Overseas Surrogacy: How Far May We Go?

In early February 2007, Reuters news service reported on a practice that has become much more visible during the past year: using a surrogate mother in India.[1] People in various parts of the world who cannot (or, at least potentially, prefer not to) undergo a pregnancy are providing their eggs and sperm to produce embryos that can be transferred into a surrogate mother’s womb in India for the duration of the pregnancy.

Podcast Episode: 
39

Sex and Desire: The Role of Parental Aspiration in Sex Selection (Podcast)

“Is it a boy or a girl?”

Whether after a sonogram or a new birth, the first question we have about a child is almost always about the sex of the child. For millennia parents have anxiously awaited the answer to a question that underscores the mystery and uniqueness of being created male and female. But what happens when the outcome can be decided before the child even enters the mother’s womb?

Podcast Episode: 
19

Is It Ethical to Determine the Sex of a Child?

One consideration in evaluating the ethics of sex selection involves the timing of the selection itself. If a boy is desired and the sex is to be determined after fertilization, a negative result (meaning the birth of a girl) can only be prevented by killing the embryo or fetus either in the lab (if conception is achieved through in vitro fertilization) or in the womb of the mother (by abortion). Such sex selection should be opposed for two reasons. First, an innocent life is sacrificed.

Podcast Episode: 
4

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