Throwing baby out with the bath water : some reflections on the evolution of reproductive technology.

Wallbank, Julie A. (1999) Throwing baby out with the bath water : some reflections on the evolution of reproductive technology. Res Publica, 5 (1). pp. 45-65. ISSN 1356-4765

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This article discusses section 156 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 which prohibits the use of eggs from aborted female foetuses for the purposes of reproduction. I argue that the pre-legislative debates focus only on the biological relationship between the aborted foetus and any ensuing child and foreclose the possibility of useful discussion about the potential merits of such technology. Kristeva's theory of abjection has been used in order to elucidate the strength of feeling about the use of eggs from the expelled foetus. I suggest that the ‘yuk’ factor stems from the potential for the blurring of the boundaries between life and death. In addition, I suggest that the stress placed on the biological link means that the foetus is ascribed special properties not given to live donors. Woman's very crucial role in reproductive technologies is therefore erased. The article argues that there are very good reasons why the debate on the subject should remain open. At present women donors have to undergo highly intrusive procedures in order to give eggs and the process is not without its health risks. The use of eggs from aborted foetuses certainly raises important consent issues but these could be addressed by placing women at the centre of the decision making process, starting with the recognition that it is women and not foetuses who have the remit and responsibility for giving consent for the use of their genetic material. Moreover, there should be an acknowledgement that women are perfectly capable of making informed decisions about donation and of considering the potential implications of participating in egg donation.

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Res Publica
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04 Feb 2009 14:52
Last Modified:
16 Sep 2023 00:19