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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Beth Fine, MS (Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine)
Description: This book explores the social, moral, and legal implications of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and embryo research after providing an overview of embryonic development and genetic and other research as a basis for understanding these issues.
Purpose: This book aims to present scientific information and a variety of viewpoints on the legal, ethical, moral, social, and policy issues faced by all who provide, use, or consider the new reproductive technologies.
Audience: The editors do not identify their target audience. However, this book is written at a level whereby scientists, health care providers, legislators, policy makers, and students can benefit from their clear presentation of the issues and rationales for particular philosophic approaches.
Features: The book is well organized; the scientific background is followed by ethical and legal/policy chapters. The multidisciplinary authors provide explanations so that nonexperts could benefit from their work. The glossary is very helpful because language from several disciplines is presented. The few simple illustrations of embryonic development complement the text very well. Because the book has several authors, the number and types of reference sources vary (scientific, legal, philosophic, etc.). However, a reader interested in pursuing a particular area covered in the book could find the sources useful, although few references are dated after 1989.
Assessment: This is a fascinating compilation of chapters by various experts in the areas of embryology, genetics, ethics, policy, and law. It is written at a level for a broad audience and will provoke discussion and debate. For example, there is a chapter questioning whether IVF research is a threat to women's autonomy. A viewpoint that is perhaps underemphasized is that expressing the benefits of reproductive technologies for infertile women and men who desire parenthood. Overall, this volume, although slightly da ted, does an excellent job of providing background in science and ethics for the lay reader to understand these important issues. This book could be used in a bioethics course at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Fertility specialists, reproductive endocrinologists, and other professionals in this area would benefit from reading this book.