Involuntary childlessness: Lessons from interactionist and ecological approaches to disability

Bioethics 37 (5):462-469 (2023)
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Because many involuntarily childless people have equal interests in benefitting from assisted reproductive technologies like in vitro fertilization as a mode of treatment, we have normative reasons to ensure inclusive access to such interventions for as many of these people as is reasonable and possible. However, the prevailing eligibility criterion for access to assisted reproductive technologies—'infertility'—is inadequate to serve the goal of inclusive access. This is because the prevailing frameworks of infertility, which include medical and social infertility, fail to precisely capture and unify the relevance of certain involuntarily childless experiences as warranting assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatment. I argue that the least we can do for those who have an interest in accessing ARTs is to conceptualize involuntarily childless experiences in dialogue with interactionist and ecological models of disability, to outline a unified and more inclusive eligibility criterion.

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Ji-Young Lee
University of Copenhagen

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