This article explores the social benefits and moral arguments in favour of women and couples freezing eggs and embryos for social reasons. Social IVF promotes equal participation by women in employment; it offers women more time to choose a partner; it provides better opportunities for the child as it allows couples more time to become financially stable; it may reduce the risk of genetic and chromosomal abnormality; it allows women and couples to have another child if circumstances change; it offers (...) an option to women and children at risk of ovarian failure; it may increase the egg and embryo pool. There are strong arguments based on equal concern and respect for women which require that women have access to this new technology. Freezing eggs also avoids some of the moral objections associated with freezing embryos. (shrink)
In vitro fertilisation and other assisted reproductive technologies (ART) now enable many women to have children, who would otherwise have remained childless. The most obvious application for these technologies is to help physically infertile, but otherwise healthy young women to have children. However, increasingly, other groups are seeking access to ART to conceive, raising ethical questions about who should be allowed to use these technologies to bear children. In particular, the question of access to ART by lesbian couples and single (...) women has roused considerable ethical, legal and public debate.This paper examines the perhaps less often considered issue of older and postmenopausal women, who are infertile due to age, using ART to conceive. A range of objections have been made to allowing these women access to ART, including concerns about their ability to care for the child, the risk of birth defects and the ‘unnaturalness’ of extending childbearing capacity beyond the menopause. This paper examines these objections and provides some responses. (shrink)
The contributions in this volume represent a detailed exploration of the salient legal and theoretical puzzles arising out of the body-as-property question, and a collation of the broad spectrum of analyses on offer.
Human tissue and body parts have been used in one way or another for millennia. They have been preserved and displayed, both in museums and public shows. Real human hair is used for wigs, while some artists even use human tissue in their works. Blood, bone marrow, whole organs and a host of other structures and human substances are all transplanted into living persons to treat illness. New life can be created from gametes through in vitro fertilisation , while the (...) creation of cell lines keeps tissue alive indefinitely. These uses create significant challenges for the legal system in the UK. The major challenge for the law is to balance the competing demands of those groups who have vested interests in human tissue—researchers, medical practitioners, patients, families, the community and the police, among many others. It must provide sufficient control to users of tissue, but also take account of the fact that our bodies hold psychological importance for us while we live and, after we die, for those we leave behind. To some degree the law has been successful, but we still lack a comprehensive, coherent approach to the regulation of human tissue. Partially as a reaction to this lack of a comprehensive approach, some commentators have turned to applying the concept of property to human tissue means to achieve regulatory outcomes they support. (shrink)
In the wake of three high-profile judicial decisions concerning the use of human biological materials, the editors of this collection felt in 2011 that there was a need for detailed scholarly exploration of the ethical and legal implications of these decisions. For centuries, it seemed that in Australia and England and Wales, individuals did not have any proprietary interests in their excised tissue. Others might acquire such interests, but there had been no clear decision on the rights or otherwise of (...) the persons from whom the tissue was obtained. In 2009, however, the Court of Appeal of England and Wales recognised a limited exception to this position in Jonathan Yearworth and others v North Bristol NHS Trust . In that case, the Court held that the appellants, who had deposited semen samples for freezing before they undertook treatment for cancer, had “for the purposes of a claim in negligence … ownership of the sperm which they had ejaculated”. One year later, the Supreme Court of Queensland, Australia, took a similarly property-based approach to determining how a semen sample stored shortly before death should be dealt in Bazley v Wesley Monash IVF . According to that court, the co-executors of the estate had sufficient proprietary interests in the semen to legally demand its return from the laboratory where it was held. In 2011, the New South Wales Supreme Court similarly found that the widow of a recently deceased man had a right to possession of his semen in Joceyln Edwards; Re the estate of the late Mark Edwards .In the editors’ view, these decisions signalled a turning point in the Anglo-Australian jurisprudence in this area, taking the law a step beyond the decisions of the late 20th century such as R v Kelly , in which possessory rights were found …. (shrink)
This special issue, Withholding artificial nutrition and hydration, comprises several papers, commentaries and responses centred largely around the issues raised by the 2011 decision of the English Court of Protection in W v M.i In that case, the mother of an adult patient applied for the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment . In 2003, the patient, M, had contracted viral encephalitis and suffered irreparable brain damage as a result. She fell into a coma, and when she emerged appeared to be in (...) a vegetative state and for 8 years was entirely dependent on life-sustaining care.Following her mother's application, M was held to lack capacity and hence in accordance with section 4 of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 , the matter turned on whether it was in her best interests for the treatment to be withdrawn. It was made clear in the 1993 decision of Airedale NHS Trust v Bland that life-sustaining treatment could be withdrawn from a patient in a permanent vegetative state if, on balance, it was not in his or her interest to continue treatment.ii The MCA also allows for withdrawal of treatment, although the approach to best interests is slightly different. However, the case of W v M is importantly different from the Bland case, because M was found not to be in a PVS, but instead was minimally conscious . Much evidence was presented of her capacity to respond to stimuli, seemingly express emotion and occasionally speak.In the first of his papers in this issue , Julian Sheather provides an overview of the case, particularly illuminating the discussions of M's interests and the views of her …. (shrink)