Abstract

     The practice of assisted reproduction is currently used and has proved quite successful for those who have sought its benefits.  To its credit, assisted reproduction has eased the suffering and disappointment of women who are  infertile by allowing them to conceive biological children.  Those who have reaped the rewards of assisted reproduction are its strongest supporters.  There are others, however, who insist that assisted reproduction raises a variety of ethical issues. This paper will discuss the use of reproductive technologies through the views of   author John Robertson.

     On January 26, 2009, octuplets were born to a thirty-three year old woman.  The children’s birth was considered highly unusual due to the quantity of children , but the manner in which children were conceived caused a greater controversy.  The decision by the woman’s physician to assist her in becoming pregnant through the use of In vitro fertilization (IVF) was one such controversy.

     The practice of assisted reproduction, or In vitro, is currently used and has proved quite successful for those who have sought its benefits.  To its credit, assisted reproduction has eased the suffering and disappointment of women who are infertile by allowing them to conceive bio- logical children.  Those who have reaped the rewards of assisted reproduction are its strongest supporters.  There are others, however, who insist that assisted reproduction raises a variety of ethical issues.  This paper will discuss the use of reproductive technologies through the views of author John Robertson.

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     There are those who view procreative liberty as simply an example of exercising their human right and freedom of choice to reproduce or not to reproduce.  Robertson argues that procreative liberty seems to have entered a more complex state with the boundaries of reproduction being extended by issues of artificial childbirth, genetic reproduction, and child rearing through adoptive processes (Robertson, 1994, p. Type page no.).  Robertson also stresses that liberty in procreation is a negative right.  This liberty does not violate any moral responsibility, but at the same time it does not carry any duty or obligation from others for support or encouragement (Steinbock, Arras & London, 1994, p. Type page no.).  According to Robertson, the importance of procreative liberty lies in its authority to allow the right to choose whether to reproduce (Robertson, 1994, p. Type page no.).

Robertson states that “the implementation of procreative liberty should be patterned after the exercise of presumptive primacy since reproduction is not a simple phenomenon, but one that entails physical effects especially for women and great responsibilities that future parents need to fulfill”  (Robertson, 1994, p. Type page no.).  Since reproduction is a great responsibility with far-reaching impacts, procreative liberty should be reasonably reviewed and implemented considering how allowing people the choice will significantly change their personal identity, dignity, the meaning of their lives, their health and physical constructs, etc.  (Robertson, 1994, p. Type page no.).

     Robertson questions how allowing procreative liberty to benefit from presumptive primacy will diminish unjust governmental control over the reproductive choices of their citizens which clearly violates their freedom to choose whether to reproduce or not despite their personal beliefs or reasons regarding the matter (Robertson, 1994, p. Type page no.).  Robertson expressed his support for procreative liberty, he sought to balance his arguments by presenting how the matter is confronted with various issues that set how the implementation of this liberty should be guided and controlled (Robertson, 1994, p. Type page no.).

     The development of reproductive technologies that support procreative liberty is the primary reason moral arguments which challenge the issue exist.  One of the most controversial issues surrounding the use of reproductive technologies is abortion.  Abortion supports the arguments for the procreative liberty of refusing to reproduce (Steinbock, Arras & London, 2008, p. Type page no.).  In one respect, the liberty to reproduce also faces arguments although this particular right is much easier to execute since most people accept the importance of reproduction of life as compared to the decision not to undergo reproduction (Steinbock Arras & London, 2008, p. Type page no.).  Robertson discussed the physical, mental, and psychological necessities that an individual must constitute prior to reproduction (Steinbock, Arras & London, 2008, type p.n.).

Robertson discussed the physical, mental, and psychological necessities that an individual must Constitute prior to reproduction (Steinbock, Arras & London, 2008, Type page no.).  Choosing to reproduce requires healthy physical characteristics to facilitate child-birth, as well as mental and psychological preparedness to become engaged in child-rearing (Steinbock, Arras & London, 2008, Type page no.).

     Robertson expressed the need for procreative liberty to be explored and eliminate uncertainty and answer issues to clearly establish a framework for the implementation or exercise of procreative liberty.  This should be accomplished by first acknowledging that the importance of procreative liberty is undeniable, expressing why it should not be neglected or approved in any way (Robertson, 1994, p. Type page no.).  Reviewing the positive and negative importance of procreative liberty, such as reproductive technologies, physical, mental , and psychological faculties of parents, is a must in order to set clear rules, laws, or guidelines, from which the exercise of procreative liberty will be patterned or guided ( Robertson, 1994, p. Type page no. ).

     The essay Biomedical Research And The Teaching Of The Church was obtained from the Vatican, Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.  This essay discusses the edicts of the Roman Catholic Church regarding the respect for human life and the dignity in procreation.  The Vatican’s argument is its regard for life as a gift from God , the Creator, and Father (Steinbock, Arras & London, 2008, p. Type page number.)  who has molded man and woman to unify through marriage in order to bear fruit of their love, who is also God, which is life.  For this reason, the Church asserts how people should honor and value this gift and to take responsibility in nourishing life.  Moreover, the Church has supported its primary religious argument addressing the issue of morality and lawfulness, which supports man’s right to life and dignity.  According to the Church, people should show respect to life, even from the first moment of its subsistence.

The Church believes that abortion violates morality because it takes away the natural right of a human being, which is a creation by God, to live (Steinbock, Arras & London, 2008, p. Type page no.).  This religious point of view expressed by the Vatican not only sought to abolish abortion, but also reproductive technologies that the Church considers to be means for man to take his destiny into his own hands.  These two principles seem to be counter-arguments to Robertson’s views of life as a matter of personal pronouncement influenced by individual decisions and preferences.  Robertson has expressed his support for procreative liberty stating that if the issue is to be taken seriously, people should be able to understand the consequential importance of reviewing, considering, and setting boundaries on the use of reproductive technologies (Robertson, 1994, p. Type page no.).  For Robertson, procreative liberty will not be fully accomplished without the inclusion of reproductive technologies in the decision-making and conclusive processes.

     Robertson has indirectly asked individuals and institutions who are concerned with the issue of procreative liberty to closely review the matter and the process in order to arrive at a clear and understandable framework or structure of how it should be executed as a social policy or rule (Robertson, 1994, Type the page no.).  The Vatican has expressed its entire opposition to procreative liberty by asking political institutions to lead the abolishment of biomedical research that lead to technologies that tamper with the natural process of life as intended by God. Robertson’s views and the arguments expressed by the Vatican were clearly opposing beliefs that place the issue of procreative liberty at a critical position, of whether it is to be considered as a means of developing moral and societal rules or a moral epidemic that should be abolished by political institutions.

                                                                      References

Robertson, J.  (2008).  The Presumptive Primacy of Procreative Liberty.  In Steinbock, Arras &

     London, Ethical Issues in Modern Medicine, pp.  599-608.  New York, New York:

     McGraw-Hill.

Robertson, J.  (1994).  Children of Choice (Robertson, J.)  Princeton University Press.

The Vatican, Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.  (1987).  Instruction in Respect for Human

     Life in its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation.  In Steinbock, Arras & London, Ethical

     Issues in Modern Medicine, pp.  609-628.  New York, New York:  McGraw-Hill.

 

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