Frozen embryos, ice-age ethics & cold comfort: A case study in the ethics of reproductive technologies

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Black, John A.
At the beginning of this decade, a civil court case in the United States (Davis v. Davis, 1989 & 1990) raised some interesting questions about the moral underpinnings of judgments on issues resulting from the application of new reproductive technologies, specifically in vitro fertilization. In this monograph I shall examine from a moral point of view some of the issues, themselves both moral and legal, raised in this case. The moral issues concern the possibility of a complicated set of rights conflicts between a prospective mother, a prospective father and a prospective child. While the initial judgment handed down seems reasonable, questions can be raised about the reasoning provided by the judge. In fact, the rationale, and possibly therefore the laws upon which it was based, manifest, in my view, a remarkably rigid and pre-historic set of moral values. Hence the first part of my title. The legal issues to be addressed arise out of a proposal by Anthony John Cuva (1991) for legislative change in the area of in vitro fertilization. While many of Cuva's presuppositions about the case seem right, I shall argue that his proposals are morally inconsistent, and as such provide little comfort to prospective parents contemplating the use of reproductive technologies. Hence the remainder of my title.
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