No Sex Please, We're Just Egg Machines and Baby Makers

By Hunt, Liz | The Independent (London, England), December 17, 1996 | Go to article overview
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No Sex Please, We're Just Egg Machines and Baby Makers


Hunt, Liz, The Independent (London, England)


Strasbourg - The psychological impact of test-tube baby treatments which reduce men to the role of "sperm provider", and position women simply as "baby-making" machines, has been widely underestimated by doctors, a leading fertility specialist warned yesterday.

Professor Israel Nisand, a French obstetrician and gynaecologist, described the paradox in which scientists had "mastered the creation of man by man" but with dehumanising consequences largely ignored by them.

"The Sixties witnessed the advent of sexuality without procreation; the Eighties heralded procreation without sexuality," he said on the opening day of a European symposium which will attempt to resolve some of the medical, legal, and ethical questions raised by modern fertility treatments. The events of last summer in the United Kingdom, which saw an impassioned debate over the disposal of "orphaned" embryos; the decision by a woman to abort one of her healthy twins; and the case of Mandy Allwood, who miscarried octuplets after taking a fertility drug, has highlighted the dilemmas faced by developed countries where medical progress has outstripped society's attempts to deal with the legal and moral aspects. Where legislation has been introduced, its failings and inflexibility have been cruelly exposed, as in the case of Diane Blood, the woman denied the right to use her dead husband's sperm to have a child. Speaking about the psychological repercussions of fertility treatment, Professor Nisand, of the Universite Paris V, said eroticism had been separated from parenthood, and instead the "intimate and private sphere of sexual relations {had} become the `field of operation' for highly specialised medical procedures .

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