Ethox Seminar - Fertility treatments, state-neutrality and adoption: In defence of defending (reproductive) preferences
Dr Giulia Cavaliere, Dickson Poon School of Law at King’s College London
Tuesday, 24 May 2022, 2.30pm to 4pm
This will be a hybrid seminar, in-person in the Richard Doll Building Lecture Theatre, University of Oxford, Old Road Campus, Oxford OX3 7LF, or on Zoom
In this paper, I respond to two sets of objections that have been raised against expanding state-funded fertility treatment provision for existing treatments, such as IVF, and against funding new treatments, such as uterine transplantation (UTx). Both IVF and UTx enable involuntary childless people to have genetically related children, something that, for many, is a valuable life project. The fulfilment of such a life project through fertility treatments is also what the two objections that I wish to discuss centre on. Following Emily McTernan, I refer to the first objection to expanding existing fertility treatment provision and to fund new treatments as the “one good among many” objection. It purports that it is unjustifiable for the state to prioritise funding such treatments over funding that could enable citizens to fulfil their preferred life project. Fertility treatments are one good among the many that the state could provide to citizens to fulfil their diverse and valuable life projects. The second is what, following Mianna Lotz, I refer to as the “treatment-reform compatibility” objection. It asserts that efforts aimed at dismantling putatively oppressive norms concerning the value of genetic relatedness and at making adoption more accessible are incompatible with efforts to fund new fertility treatments. I will argue that whilst these objections raise important concerns, they do not represent defeating arguments against expanding fertility treatment provisions and providing funding for new treatments. My contention—and the approach that I advocate for—is that people’s, and especially women’s reproductive preferences should be given more weight in discussions concerning fertility treatment provision, due to the costs associated with disregarding them. Additionally, I suggest that there is both practical and conceptual compatibility between enabling the fulfilment of one vis-à-vis another valuable life project, and between challenging oppressive norms and satisfying people’s preferences.