How Safe Is Safe Enough?: Obligations to the Children of Reproductive Technology

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This book offers a comprehensive roadmap for determining when and how to regulate risky reproductive technologies on behalf of future children. First, it provides three benchmarks for determining whether a reproductive practice is harmful to the children it produces. This framework synthesizes and extends past efforts to make sense of our intuitive, but paradoxical, belief that reproductive choices can be both life-giving and harmful. Next, it recommends a process for reconciling the interests of future children with the reproductive liberty of prospective parents. The author rejects a blanket preference for either parental autonomy or child welfare and proposes instead a case-by-case inquiry that takes into account the nature and magnitude of the proposed restrictions on procreative liberty, the risk of harm to future children, and the context in which the issue arises. Finally, he applies this framework to four past and future medical treatments with above average risk, including cloning and genetic engineering. Drawing lessons from these case studies, Peters criticizes the current lack of regulatory oversight and recommends both more extensive pre-market testing and closer post-market monitoring of new reproductive technologies. His moderate, pragmatic approach will be widely appreciated.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is an important book because it emphasizes that regulation and laws are necessary with regard to asisted reproductive technology. The book strongly argues that legislation and regulation are essential if the powerful tool of reproductive technology is to benefit all of humanity in a safe and responsible fashion. Peter's take-home message is this: when scientific advances outstrip moral convictions (even among some practitioners), proactive legislation is necessary for the protection of all parties. In making its arguments, this book subtly erases the line between law and ethics." —New England Journal of Medicine
Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Benjamin Jang Kennedy, BS (Medical College of Wisconsin)
Description: The author evinces a concern for the interests of future children when confronted with the issue of ever-growing reproductive technologies in this well laid out book. The clear separations within each chapter result in a clean, linear flow.
Purpose: The author first establishes the moral and physical harms associated with these new technologies, then explains how they affect both individuals and society as a whole. He provides guidance on the roles of regulations and policies. These objectives are particularly worthy when reproduction, children, and technology collide. A weighty subject such as reproduction has been presented before, often with an abundance of ethical, legal, and statistical information, but guidance on future and law is often obscure. He establishes a well balanced read and tackles those issues with clear and concise arguments.
Audience: In my best estimate, the book is targeted at both students and professionals in the biomedical field, law and policy makers, and philosophers. I assume the author's audience is the same, plus a wider range of medical professionals and general readers, possibly those simply interested in the subject of reproductive technologies, though the reading level and references might be somewhat complex for the general reader.
Features: The author describes the various methods of technological reproduction and the harms associated with them. He then explains the role of past, present, and future policies. Particularly well constructed is the author's legal and policy framework. Providing a brief overview and history of law and its relation to reproduction strengthens his arguments. Possible shortcomings are the realities of enacting and procedurally carrying out his suggestion for stricter oversight.
Assessment: This book is well written and its contents well researched. The author takes on the approach of a neutral-push, that is, he creates well balanced arguments and justifications to get his point across to the reader. In his approach to procreative liberty, he borrows and expands a good deal from John Robertson's work, Children of Choice: Freedom and the New Reproductive Technologies (Princeton University Press, 1996). This book is a great read for anyone interested in the future of reproductive technologies and how they not only impact future children, but society as well.

4 Stars! from Doody
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195157079
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 10/1/2003
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 9.40 (w) x 6.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction to the Debate Over Risky Technologies
2. Future People Matter
3. Three Ways in Which Reproductive Conduct Can Cause Harm
4. The Duty to Use the Safest Procreative Method Available
5. Treatments Too Dangerous to Use Even as a Last Resort
6. Treatments That Endanger Embryos
7. Synthesis
8. Constructing a Regulatory Framework that Respects Parental Liberty
9. An Introduction to Constitutional Limits on the Regulation of Reproduction
10. Substantive Due Process Doctrine
11. A Critique of the "Deeply Rooted" Test
12. The Constitutional Stature of Reproductive Technologies
13. The State's Interest in Protecting Future Children
14. Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
15. Multiple Pregnancy
16. Cloning
17. Germ-line Genetic Engineering
18. Conclusion

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