Why uterine transplantation requires us to rethink the role of the pre-conception welfare principle

O'Donovan, Laura (2022) Why uterine transplantation requires us to rethink the role of the pre-conception welfare principle. Journal of Law and the Biosciences, 9 (2). ISSN 2053-9711

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Uterine transplantation (UTx) is a programme of treatment aimed at providing a unique solution to absolute uterine factor infertility, enabling patients to have children as a result of their own pregnancies. As a transplant procedure performed for fertility purposes it may be thought obvious that the welfare of any children created should be assessed prior to treatment provision. However, major concerns about the breadth and scope of such requirements, and the potential threat they pose to patients’ reproductive autonomy, have been raised. In this paper, I analyse novel questions regarding the role of the pre-conception welfare principle in UTx. After outlining traditional critiques of the principle, I focus on the unique issues raised by its application in the two areas of medicine occupied by UTx. As a treatment for a particular form of infertility, I explore whether law and policy regulating traditional assisted reproductive technologies applies equally to the case of UTx, and whether a distinction (in welfare terms) does and should exist between fertility treatment involving gametes and embryos and gynaecological surgery for fertility purposes. As a quality- of-life-enhancing transplant, I consider and reject proposals in favour of using pre-conception welfare considerations to inform patient listing and the allocation of deceased donor uteri on the grounds that such assessments may both compromise patient autonomy and lead to unjust discrimination against particular patients or groups of patients.

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Journal Article
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Journal of Law and the Biosciences
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19 Oct 2022 15:50
Last Modified:
17 Sep 2023 03:19