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Ethics and Economics of Assisted Reproduction The Cost of Longing by Maura A. Ryan

Ethics and Economics of Assisted Reproduction The Cost of Longing

Part of the Moral Traditions series Series


Ethics and Economics of Assisted Reproduction The Cost of Longing by Maura A. Ryan

For those who undergo it, infertility treatment is costly, time-consuming, invasive, and emotionally and physically arduous, yet technology remains the focus of most public discussion of the topic. Drawing on concepts from medical ethics, feminist theory, and Roman Catholic social teaching, Maura A. Ryan analyzes the economic, ethical, theological, and political dimensions of assisted reproduction. Taking seriously the experience of infertility as a crisis of the self, the spirit, and the body, Ryan argues for the place of reproductive technologies within a temperate, affordable, sustainable, and just health care system. She contends that only by ceasing to treat assisted reproduction as a consumer product can meaningful questions about medical appropriateness and social responsibility be raised. She places infertility treatments within broader commitments to the common good, thereby understanding reproductive rights as an inherently social, rather than individual, issue. Arguing for some limits on access to reproductive technology, Ryan considers ways to assess the importance of assisted reproduction against other social and medical prerogatives and where to draw the line in promoting fertility. Finally, Ryan articulates the need for a compassionate spirituality within faith communities that will nurture those who are infertile.


An excellent book that makes significant contributions to the diverse fields of ethical theory and public policy analysis. Ryan displays a sophisticated understanding of feminist theory, medical ethics, and Catholic social teaching on economic justice... Well worth the attention of ethicists, medical practitioners, lawyers, and clergy engaged in formulating responses to involuntary human infertility. Medical Humanities Review Ryan (Christian ethics, U. of Notre Dame) questions the current reality of assisted reproductive technologies in the context of a consumerist society. She argues that the ethics of reproductive technologies needs to take into account both feminist criticisms of control over women's bodies and Catholic calls for a greater social good. Arguing that assisted reproduction should be seen as a social need rather than individualist consumption, she looks at the technologies as it is situated in the health care system as a whole and attempts to articulate an ethics that takes into account spiritual faith. Book News, Inc. Ryan (Christian ethics, Univ. of Notre Dame) discusses reproductive technology within the context of the common good, social justice, and ethical reasoning. She draws from a background of Catholic moral theology, medical ethics, feminism, and personal experience with infertility. Several well-written books are available regarding the ethics of assisted reproduction and reproductive technology; Ryan adds a dimension to the debate-how ethics and economics of assisted reproduction intersect. She begins by exploring the myths and realities of the economics of infertility including whether reproduction and its costs are truly private issues. Chapter 2 reviews the ethical issues surrounding assisted reproduction; chapter 3 focuses on the goals of medicine as it relates to infertility and the relief of suffering. The fourth chapter rethinks the limits of procreative liberty within a framework of the common good, and chapter 5 returns to the concept of justice and access to reproductive services and proposes a framework for determining equitable access given limited resources. The final chapter reflects on infertility as a spiritual crisis. Well documented and indexed. Graduate students through professionals. Choice

About the Author

Maura A. Ryan is associate provost at the University of Notre Dame and coeditor of The Challenge of Global Stewardship: Roman Catholic Responses.

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Book Info

Publication date

11th June 2003


Maura A. Ryan

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Georgetown University Press


192 pages


Medical ethics & professional conduct



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