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Idea of the Day: There Are Still Many Questions About Assisted Reproductive Technologies

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In 2007 the Center for American Progress released its report “Future Choices: Assisted Reproductive Technologies and the Law,” which described a range of assisted reproductive technologies and their legal and regulatory background. The report also examined the policy implications of the largely unregulated field of reproductive technology, especially in the context of traditional feminist positions on reproductive rights. If a woman has the ultimate right to decide whether or not to bear a child when she is pregnant, for instance, does that principle hold true when she would like to become pregnant with the use of specific embryos? Is surrogacy a noble pursuit undertaken by autonomous, well-informed, and altruistic women, or is it a practice that exploits the low-income and vulnerable?

These questions have not gotten any easier to answer in the intervening years. Indeed, advances in reproductive technologies have continued to outpace the development of the laws that might govern them. At the same time, more and more people who would have been unable to procreate or become parents in past generations have been able to bring a child into their home or build a family of their choosing, including those who have historically been deemed “infertile” for social reasons such as their sexual orientation, gender identity, or unmarried status. When things do not go as planned, however, the law’s failure to prescribe clear guidelines for resolving the disputes that inevitably arise can lead to real confusion and hardship for families. And all the while, the questions keep coming.

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This is part of a regular column: Idea of the Day

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