CHILDREN OF CHOICE: Freedom and the New Reproductive Technologies by John A. Robertson

CHILDREN OF CHOICE: Freedom and the New Reproductive Technologies

Email this review


Rigorous study of the constitutional right to choose reproductive technology, by law professor/legal bioethicist Robertson (Univ. of Texas, Austin). For the author of The Rights of the Critically Ill (not reviewed), procreative liberty -- the freedom to decide whether or not to have children, and whether or not to rear them -- is a fundamental right of all individuals, fertile or infertile. Therefore, he argues, individuals should be free to choose reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization and the morning-after pill without government interference, unless the state can demonstrate a compelling interest in regulating such a choice. It seldom can, he claims. For example, the government may justifiably mandate that a severely retarded girl use the long-term contraceptive Norplant to protect her from sexual abuse in an institutional setting, but it may not make Norplant compulsory for HIV-positive individuals or convicted child abusers. Robertson contends that a ""basic commitment to procreative liberty"" entails respecting a couple's advance agreement to freeze or discard embryos, to enforce surrogacy contracts (even if the gestating mother later changes her mind), and (probably) to genetically ""enhance"" embryos. He analyzes the constitutional implications of each technology with a law professor's penchant for outlines and obfuscation (e.g., ""Objections to paying surrogates are often more deontological than consequentialist""), but with a firm sense of the wrenching real-world questions left unanswered and the specific ways people can protect their reproductive rights. For instance, he urges that lesbian couples seeking children through artificial insemination ""have one partner provide the egg for the embryo which is then gestated by the other partner."" A searching exploration of the ever-expanding parameters of ""choice"" written with Solomon-like sagacity. General readers will certainly be challenged, but this is not a law book for lawyers only.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0691036659
Page count: 264pp
Publisher: Princeton Univ. Press