Research Article| Volume 12, ISSUE 3, P429-448, September 1992

The Technology, Law, and Ethics of in Vitro Fertilization, Gamete Donation, and Surrogate Motherhood

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      This article examines some of the legal, ethical, and policy issues raised by the development and use of technologies for noncoital reproduction: gamete transfer and manipulation, in vitro fertilization, and zygote transfer and manipulation. After briefly describing these technologies, this article examines three closely related concerns raised by their introduction: (1) the effect of new technologies on the social understanding of parenthood and the legal regulation of the family; (2) the impact on women and children of a market in the material and services for producing children; and (3) the rights and interests involved in conflicts over the control and disposition of extrauterine embryos.
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      2. For more detail on these techniques, see US Congress OTA, op. cit. note 1; Blank RH: Human genetic and reproductive intervention. In Regulating Reproduction. New York, Columbia University Press, p 23; Andrews L: New conceptions: A Consumer’s Guide to the Newest in Fertility Treatments Including Artificial Insemination and Surrogate Mothering. New York, St. Martin’s Press, 1981 (Rev. ed 1985)

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      6. US Congress OTA, op. cit. note 1, p 282. The law governing parental obligations and rights is state, not federal law, and much of the state law in this area is “common law” or “case law,” not codified in statutes, but made, cited, and relied upon in judicial decisions.

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      12. See Weedn VW, op. cit. note 3, p 261

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      19. See notes 38-43 infra

      20. Victor Weedn has noted that the practice of surrogacy may literally conflict with state laws that divest a semen donor of his parental rights and confer those rights on the birth mother, Weedn VW, op. cit. note 3

      21. See Haas [letter], op. cit. note 13

      22. 109 NJ 396, 537 A2.d 1227 (1988)

      23. No. 63-31-90 (Orange Cty. Superior Ct. Calif. October 22, 1990)

      24. John Robertson, quoted in Kolata G: When grandmother is the mother, until birth. New York Times CXL 48(683): All, col. 1, August 5, 1991; Kolder et al: Obstetrical interventions. N Engl J Med 316:1192, 1987

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      26. Andrews L: Between Strangers. New York, Harper & Row, 1989, pp 217-219. The experts consulted by the OTA differed on how the separation of genetic, gestational, and social functions would affect the welfare of children and parents. US Congress OTA, op. cit. note 1, p 209

      27. Quoted in Kolata G, op. cit. note 31

      28. Paraphrased in Kolata G, ibid

      29. A similar concern is discussed in Macklin R: Artificial means of reproduction and our understanding of the family. Hastings Center Report: 6, January-February 1991

      30. For two influential discussions of these issues, see Corea G: The Mother Machine. New York, Harper & Row, 1985; Field M: Surrogate Motherhood: The Legal and Human Issues, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1988

      31. Doe v. Kelly, 106 Mich. App. 169, 307 N.W. 2d 438 (1981)

      32. Surrogate Parenting Associates, Inc. v. Commonwealth Ex Rel. Armstrong, 704 S.W. 2d 209 (1986)

      33. 109 NJ 396, 537 A.2d 1227 (1988)

      34. Arizona (1989 Ariz. Sess. Laws 14); Florida (Fla. Stat. Sec. 63.212(1) (1988); Indiana (Individuals. Code Sec. 31-8-2-1 to 31-8-2-3) (1988); Kentucky (Ky. Rev. Stat. Sec. 199.590 (1988); Louisiana (La. Rev. Stat. Ann. Sec. 9:2713) (1987); Michigan (Mich. Comp. Laws, Sec. 722.851-722.863) (1988); Nebraska (Ne. Rev. Stat. 674) (1988); Nevada (Nv. Rev. Stat. 127.303.5) (1987); North Dakota (1989 N.D. Sess. Laws 184); Utah (1989 Utah Laws 140); Washington (1989 Wash. Laws 404)

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      36. See Rothenberg KH op. cit. note 40, p 351, n 10

      37. Smith v. Jones, CF 025 653 (Los Angeles Superior Ct. Calif. 1987); Smith & v. Jones & Jones, 85-532014 DZ (Detroit MI, 3d District 9 Mar. 15,1986); see US Congress OTA, op. cit. note 1, pp 284, 290

      38. No. 63-31-90 (Orange Cty. Superior Ct. Calif. October 22, 1990)

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      41. Barbara Katz-Rothman argues that the technology for monitoring and assisting pregnancy —fluoroscopes, sonograms, amniocentesis, CVS, and fetal micro-surgery—has greatly reduced the intimacy and privacy of the maternal-fetal relationship, by making the fetus accessible to the outside world. This, in turn, has encouraged health-care professionals to treat the fetus as the patient, and to neglect the needs of the mother. Katz-Rothman B: op. cit note 47

      42. A similar concern has already been raised about the related medical technology for pre-natal screening. Katz-Rothman has argued that such screening, even for narrow “disease-prevention” purposes, has a subversive effect on the unconditional love of a mother for an intended child. That effect will be even more subversive if screening is used, as it may well be, for more “positive” eugenic purposes. Katz-Rothman B: The tentative pregnancy: Pre-natal diagnosis and the future of motherhood. New York, Viking, 1986

      43. The Repository for Germinal Choice.
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      44. Reported in Newsweek, Feb. 14, 1983, p 76; New York Times, Feb. 6, 1983; Los Angeles Times, Feb. 3, 1983

      45. See Weedn VW, op. cit. note 3

      46. Andrews L, op. cit. note 33, p 250

      47. 410 US 113 (1973)

      48. 38 US 479 (1965)

      49. State v. Merrill, 450 N.W. 2d 318 (1990)

      50. For a general discussion of this issue, see Wachbroit R: Technology’s mixed blessings. Report from the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy 10(2):6, 1990

      51. Even apart from these complications, the moral significance of potentiality is unclear. See Wasserman D, Strudler A: Persons and potential persons. Report from the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy 10(2):4, 1990

      52. See US Congress OTA, op. cit. note 1, p 252. Several other states have enacted legislation regulating IVF for reproductive purposes. Pennsylvania requires regular reports from doctors performing IVF, while Louisiana and Florida make it a crime to sell fertilized embryos for any purpose. Broad prohibitions on fetal research in several states may be taken to bar the cryopreservation of “surplus” embryos following IVF. See King PA: Reproductive technologies. In Childress JF, King PA, Rothenberg KE, et al: BioLaw: A Legal and Ethical Reporter, vol I: Resource Manual. Lanham, MD, University Publications of America, 1989, p 165

      53. Illinois Abortion Act of 1977 Sec. 4. See Weedn VW, op. cit. note 3, pp 262-263

        • Court of Appeals of Tennessee
        United States Law Week. 1990; 59: 2205
      54. United States District Court, Southern District of New York, 74 Civ. 3588, 1978

        • See Smith G.P.
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        J Fam Law. 1985; 24: 27
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