Academic journal article Washington and Lee Law Review

Introduction

Academic journal article Washington and Lee Law Review

Introduction

Article excerpt

Professor John A. Robertson's new book, Children of Choice: Freedom and the New Reproductive Technologies,(1) presents a framework for evaluating the controversies engendered by reproductive technologies and the reproductive revolution. This framework centers on procreative liberty as a value by which to judge reproductive techniques. According to Robertson, procreative liberty, defined as the freedom to control one's own reproductive capacity in deciding whether or not to procreate, is a basic right that should receive presumptive priority in all challenges against its exercise. Because reproductive experiences contribute substantially to a person's sense of individual dignity and identity, reproductive freedom should triumph in all instances in which opponents of reproductive freedom cannot establish that substantial harms to third parties would result from its exercise.

Professor Robertson provides a two-step approach by which to assess all reproductive technologies. First, the technique must promote a distinctively procreative interest worthy of protection. Second, the harm threatened to others from use of the technique must be substantial to justify overriding the identified procreative interest. The difficulty in evaluation stems from differences of opinion concerning what qualifies as a sufficiently substantial harm to defeat a reproductive liberty interest.

Professor Robertson evaluates four general categories of reproductive technology under this procreative liberty analysis. He explores technologies used to avoid reproduction, to assist reproduction, to control offspring characteristics and quality, and to make nonreproductive use of reproductive capacity. Robertson identifies the degree of procreative interest that attaches to each technique and the countervailing interests that opponents identify as sufficiently worthy of protection to infringe upon the procreative interest. …

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