The status quo on parental licensing in most Western jurisdictions is that licensing is required in the case of adoption but not in the case of assisted or unassisted biological reproduction. To have a child via adoption, one must fulfill licensing requirements, which, beyond the usual home study, can include mandatory participation in parenting classes. One is exempt from these requirements, however, if one has a child via biological reproduction, including assisted reproduction involving donor gametes or a contract pregnancy. In (...) an earlier paper, we challenged this system of parental licensing by showing that arguments in favour of it do not succeed. One argument we failed to consider, however, is that prospective biological parents have a right to reproduce that protects them against the sort of state interference that is involved in parental licensing. According to this argument, because prospective adoptive parents do not exercise a similar right when attempting to become parents, they are not similarly protected. In this paper, we argue that this reproductive rights argument, like other arguments in favour of the status quo on parental licensing, is flawed. We also question whether people in fact have a right to reproduce, and in doing so distinguish this right from others that we think are legitimate, including a right to become a parent and a right to bodily autonomy. (shrink)
This book concerns the ethics of having children through adoption or technologically-assisted reproduction. Some people who choose between these methods struggle between them. Others do not agonize in this way, perhaps because they have a profound desire for a genetic link to the child(ren) they will parent and so prefer assisted reproduction, they view adoption as the only morally decent choice in an overcrowded world, or for some other reason. This book critically examines moral choices that involve each of these (...) ways of making or expanding families with children. The contributors discuss how adoption and assisted reproduction are morally distinct from one another, but also emphasize how they are morally similar, given that both are forms of family‐making. (shrink)
The process of adopting a child is “not for the faint of heart.” This is what we were told the first time we, as a couple, began this process. Part of the challenge lies in fulfilling the licensing requirements for adoption, which, beyond the usual home study, can include mandatory participation in parenting classes. The question naturally arises for many people who are subjected to these requirements whether they are morally justified. We tackle this question in this paper. In our (...) view, while strong reasons exist in favour of licensing adoptive parents, these reasons support the licensing not only of adoptive parents, but of all or some subset of so-called “natural” parents as well. We therefore conclude that the status quo with respect to parental licensing, according to which only adoptive parents need to be licensed, is morally unjustified. (shrink)
Some bioethicists argue that conscientious objectors in health care should have to justify themselves, just as objectors in the military do. They should have to provide reasons that explain why they should be exempt from offering the services that they find offensive. There are two versions of this view in the literature, each giving different standards of justification. We show these views are each either too permissive (i.e. would result in problematic exemptions based on conscience) or too restrictive (i.e. would (...) produce problematic denials of exemption). We then develop a middle ground position that we believe better combines respect for the conscience of healthcare professionals with concern for the duties that they owe to patients. Our claim, in short, is that insofar as objectors should have to justify themselves, they should have to do it according to the standard that we defend rather than according to the standards that others have developed. (shrink)
One understanding of conscience dominates bioethical discussion about conscience. On this view, to have a conscience is to be compelled to act in accordance with one’s own moral values for the sake of one’s “integrity,” where integrity is understood as inner or psychological unity. Conscience is deemed valuable because it promotes this quality. In this paper, I describe the dominant view, attempt to show that it is flawed, and sketch a positive alternative to it. In my opinion, conscience often fails (...) to promote inner unity (regardless of the degree of inner unity we have in mind); acting with a conscience leaves many people broken rather than unified. A better view about the value of conscience is that having a conscience encourages morally responsible agency. My goal is to prove that this alternative explains better what it means to value conscience in health care and the extent to which we ought to value it. (shrink)
This paper addresses the likely impact on women of being denied emergency contraception (EC) by pharmacists who conscientiously refuse to provide it. A common view—defended by Elizabeth Fenton and Loren Lomasky, among others—is that these refusals inconvenience rather than harm women so long as the women can easily get EC somewhere else nearby. I argue from a feminist perspective that the refusals harm women even when they can easily get EC somewhere else nearby.
Public attention on embryo research has never been greater. Modern reproductive medicine technology and the use of embryos to generate stem cells ensure that this will continue to be a topic of debate and research across many disciplines. This multidisciplinary book explores the concept of a 'healthy' embryo, its implications on the health of children and adults, and how perceptions of what constitutes child and adult health influence the concept of embryo 'health'. The concept of human embryo health is considered (...) from preconception to pre-implantation genetic diagnosis to recent foetal surgical approaches. Burgeoning capacities in both genetic and reproductive science and their clinical implications have catalysed the necessity to explore the concept of a 'healthy' embryo. The authors are from five countries and 13 disciplines in the social sciences, humanities, biological sciences and medicine, ensuring that the book has a broad coverage and approach. (shrink)
Currently, the preferred accommodation for conscientious objection to abortion in medicine is to allow the objector to refuse to accede to the patient’s request so long as the objector refers the patient to a physician who performs abortions. The referral part of this arrangement is controversial, however. Pro-life advocates claim that referrals make objectors complicit in the performance of acts that they, the objectors, find morally offensive. McLeod argues that the referral requirement is justifiable, although not in the way that (...) people usually assume. (shrink)
Infertility can be an agonizing experience, especially for women. And, much of the agony has to do with luck: with how unlucky one is in being infertile, and in how much luck is involved in determining whether one can weather the storm of infertility and perhaps have a child in the end. We argue that bad luck associated with being infertile is often bad moral luck for women. The infertile woman often blames herself or is blamed by others for what (...) is happening to her, even when she cannot control or prevent what is happening to her. She has simply had bad luck. We focus on the self-blame of infertile women and show how it stems from pro-natalism that targets women. We also argue that overall for women, regret is a better moral response to infertility than self-blame. (shrink)
Now that stem cell scientists are clamouring for human eggs for cloning-based stem cell research, there is vigorous debate about the ethics of paying women for their eggs. Generally speaking, some claim that women should be paid a fair wage for their reproductive labour or tissues, while others argue against the further commodification of reproductive labour or tissues and worry about voluntariness among potential egg providers. Siding mainly with those who believe that women should be financially compensated for providing eggs (...) for research, the new stem cell guidelines of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) legitimise both reimbursement of direct expenses and financial compensation for many women who supply eggs for research. In this paper, the authors do not attempt to resolve the thorny issue of whether payment for eggs used in human embryonic stem cell research is ethically legitimate. Rather, they want to show specifically that the ISSCR recommended payment practices are deeply flawed and, more generally, that all payment schemes that aim to avoid undue inducement of women risk the global exploitation of economically disadvantaged women. (shrink)
Some stem cell researchers believe that it is easier to derive human embryonic stem cells from fresh rather than frozen embryos and they have had in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinicians invite their infertility patients to donate their fresh embryos for research use. These embryos include those that are deemed 'suitable for transfer' (i.e. to the woman's uterus) and those deemed unsuitable in this regard. This paper focuses on fresh embryos deemed suitable for transfer - hereafter 'fresh embryos'- which IVF patients (...) have good reason not to donate. We explain why donating them to research is not in the self-interests specifically of female IVF patients. Next, we consider the other-regarding interests of these patients and conclude that while fresh embryo donation may serve those interests, it does so at unnecessary cost to patients' self-interests. Lastly, we review some of the potential barriers to the autonomous donation of fresh embryos to research and highlight the risk that female IVF patients invited to donate these embryos will misunderstand key aspects of the donation decision, be coerced to donate, or be exploited in the consent process. On the basis of our analysis, we conclude that patients should not be asked to donate their fresh embryos to stem cell research. (shrink)
The feminist literature against the commodification of embryos in human embryo research includes an argument to the effect that embryos are "intimately connected" to persons, or morally inalienable from them. We explore why embryos might be inalienable to persons and why feminists might find this view appealing. But, ultimately, as feminists, we reject this view because it is inconsistent with full respect for women's reproductive autonomy and with a feminist conception of persons as relational, embodied beings. Overall, feminists should avoid (...) claims about embryos' being inalienable to persons in arguments for or against the commodification of human embryos. (shrink)
The article aims to distinguish autonomy from integrity. I claim that integrity is different from a form of autonomy at least, but that integrity and autonomy overlap considerably. Integrity itself is a form of autonomy: what ethicists call moral autonomy. (They tend to distinguish between personal and moral autonomy.) Autonomy is the genus, one might say, with integrity (i.e., moral autonomy) and personal autonomy being species of it.
Self-protection seems to be negatively correlated with integrity on the standard conception of that virtue. To be self-protective is to lose some of our integrity. In this paper, I pursue the somewhat unlikely claim that a certain amount of self-protection is consistent with integrity and is even required by it in many circumstances.
The main aims of the paper are to explain how objectification admits of degrees and why a significant portion of the objectification of women in contemporary Western society - objectification that contributes to their oppression - is what I call "partial objectification." To acknowledge the full range of objectification in women's lives, feminists need a theory of how objectification can be degreed. They need to be able to say that women can be both bosom and legitimate job candidate, both breeder (...) and health care patient, both sex object and intimate partner. (shrink)
The power of new medical technologies, the cultural authority of physicians, and the gendered power dynamics of many patient-physician relationships can all inhibit women's reproductive freedom. Often these factors interfere with women's ability to trust themselves to choose and act in ways that are consistent with their own goals and values. In this book Carolyn McLeod introduces to the reproductive ethics literature the idea that in reproductive health care women's self-trust can be undermined in ways that threaten their autonomy. Understanding (...) the importance of self-trust for autonomy, McLeod argues, is crucial to understanding the limits on women's reproductive freedom. -/- McLeod brings feminist insights in philosophical moral psychology to reproductive ethics, and to health-care ethics more broadly. She identifies the social environments in which self-trust is formed and encouraged. She also shows how women's experiences of reproductive health care can enrich our understanding of self-trust and autonomy as philosophical concepts. The book's theoretical components are grounded in women's concrete experiences. The cases discussed, which involve miscarriage, infertility treatment, and prenatal diagnosis, show that what many women feel toward themselves in reproductive contexts is analogous to what we feel toward others when we trust or distrust them. -/- McLeod also discusses what health-care providers can do to minimize the barriers to women's self-trust in reproductive health care, and why they have a duty to do so as part of their larger duty to respect patient autonomy. (shrink)