January 28, 2008
Future Choices: Assisted Reproductive Technologies and the Law
"In our modern world, sex is no longer the exclusive method for humans to reproduce. A new group of medical options, known as “assisted reproductive technologies,” are challenging our understanding of parenthood and biological relationships.
Louise Brown, the world’s first “test tube baby,” was born in 1978. Since then, the field of assisted reproduction has taken off, bringing increasingly new and innovative ways to create children—as well as increasingly more complex family relationships and ethically fraught medical practices.
The relationship between technology and the law in this context is symbiotic. If we think of the new technologies as plants, growing toward the sky and leading us into new medical, scientific, and ethical realms, then the legal terrain is the soil, dictating which practices can develop and thrive and which must wither away. Every decision to regulate or not creates unique incentives and disincentives for the fertility industry a! nd those it serves.
For now, the fertility industry remains largely unregulated in the United States. Where regulation of these technologies has occurred, however, it has had real-life consequences for thousands of people and ripple effects on multiple areas of the law, from adoption to abortion, from health insurance to inheritance." [RJ]
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