Ethics and Economics of Assisted Reproduction

cover art
192 pp., 6 x 9
ISBN: 9780878408719 (0878408711)

192 pp., 6 x 9
ISBN: 9780878408849 (0878408843)

June 2003
LC: 2001023258

Moral Traditions series


Table of Contents

Ethics and Economics of Assisted Reproduction
The Cost of Longing
Maura A. Ryan
For those who undergo it, infertility treatment is costly, time-consuming, invasive, and emotionally and physically arduous, yet technology remains the focus of most public discussion of the topic. Drawing on concepts from medical ethics, feminist theory, and Roman Catholic social teaching, Maura A. Ryan analyzes the economic, ethical, theological, and political dimensions of assisted reproduction.

Taking seriously the experience of infertility as a crisis of the self, the spirit, and the body, Ryan argues for the place of reproductive technologies within a temperate, affordable, sustainable, and just health care system. She contends that only by ceasing to treat assisted reproduction as a consumer product can meaningful questions about medical appropriateness and social responsibility be raised. She places infertility treatments within broader commitments to the common good, thereby understanding reproductive rights as an inherently social, rather than individual, issue. Arguing for some limits on access to reproductive technology, Ryan considers ways to assess the importance of assisted reproduction against other social and medical prerogatives and where to draw the line in promoting fertility. Finally, Ryan articulates the need for a compassionate spirituality within faith communities that will nurture those who are infertile.
Maura A. Ryan is associate provost at the University of Notre Dame and coeditor of The Challenge of Global Stewardship: Roman Catholic Responses.
James F. Keenan, SJ, Series Editor
"An excellent book that makes significant contributions to the diverse fields of ethical theory and public policy analysis. Ryan displays a sophisticated understanding of feminist theory, medical ethics, and Catholic social teaching on economic justice. . . . Well worth the attention of ethicists, medical practitioners, lawyers, and clergy engaged in formulating responses to involuntary human infertility."—Medical Humanities Review

"Ryan (Christian ethics, U. of Notre Dame) questions the current reality of assisted reproductive technologies in the context of a consumerist society. She argues that the ethics of reproductive technologies needs to take into account both feminist criticisms of control over women's bodies and Catholic calls for a greater social good. Arguing that assisted reproduction should be seen as a social need rather than individualist consumption, she looks at the technologies as it is situated in the health care system as a whole and attempts to articulate an ethics that takes into account spiritual faith."—Book News, Inc.

"Ryan (Christian ethics, Univ. of Notre Dame) discusses reproductive technology within the context of the common good, social justice, and ethical reasoning. She draws from a background of Catholic moral theology, medical ethics, feminism, and personal experience with infertility. Several well-written books are available regarding the ethics of assisted reproduction and reproductive technology; Ryan adds a dimension to the debate—how ethics and economics of assisted reproduction intersect. She begins by exploring the myths and realities of the economics of infertility including whether reproduction and its costs are truly private issues. Chapter 2 reviews the ethical issues surrounding assisted reproduction; chapter 3 focuses on the goals of medicine as it relates to infertility and the relief of suffering. The fourth chapter rethinks the limits of procreative liberty within a framework of the common good, and chapter 5 returns to the concept of justice and access to reproductive services and proposes a framework for determining equitable access given limited resources. The final chapter reflects on infertility as a spiritual crisis. Well documented and indexed. Graduate students through professionals."—Choice

"Instead of discussing reproductive technology in terms of privacy and rights, Ryan offers a compelling theological and ethical analysis of the world of reproductive medicine rooted in the tradition of the common good. Argued with exceptional care, this book is a singular contribution to the literature on the ethics of assisted reproduction."—Paul Lauritzen, professor and chair of the Department of Religious Studies and the director of the Program in Applied Ethics, John Carroll University

Table of Contents


1. The Economics of Infertility
Myths and Realities in the Economics of Infertility
Intersection: Ethics and Economics
Distributive Justice and Assisted Reproduction

2. The Ethics of Assisted Reproduction
The Ethics of Assisted Reproduction
What about Adoption?
Reproduction and the Common Good

3. Assisted Reproduction and the Goals of Medicine
Infertility, Suffering, and the Goals of Medicine
Living with Infertility
Inside/Outside: The Medical Construction of Infertility
Some Preliminary Conclusions
Reflecting on the Goals of Medicine

4. Reconceiving Procreative Liberty
John Robertson and the Meaning of Procreative Liberty
Rights Talk and the Critique of Procreative Liberty, American-Style
Border Tensions
Procreative Liberty and Catholic Social Teaching

5. Assisted Reproduction and Access to Health Care
Human Dignity and Access to Health Care
A Decent Minimum
Investments in Reproducing
Equity and Access
At the Boundaries
Setting Limits

6. Faith and Infertility
Mixed Messages and Missed Opportunities
Creating a Context
From Spiritual Crisis to Spiritual Quest
Conclusions and the Work Yet to Be Done