Choice, Gift, or Patriarchal Bargain? Women's Consent to In Vitro Fertilization in Male Infertility

Hypatia 4 (3):23-36 (1989)


This paper explores the reasons why women who are themselves fertile might consent to undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF) with an infertile male partner. The reasons often given are desire to have that particular man's child, or altruism, giving a gift to the partner. Although ethically, the decision should be completely woman's prerogative, because IVF programs usually treat the couple as a unit, she may be offered few other options by the medical staff. In social terms, whether the woman is or is not infertile may be immaterial because in either situation, if she wants to try to have a biological child and maintain the relationship, she may have to make a patriarchal bargain and undergo in vitro fertilization.

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