Test Tube Families: Why the Fertility Market Needs Legal Regulation

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Overview

The birth of the first test tube baby in 1978 focused attention on the sweeping advances in assisted reproductive technology (ART), which is now a multi-billion-dollar business in the United States. Sperm and eggs are bought and sold in a market that has few barriers to its skyrocketing growth. While ART has been an invaluable gift to thousands of people, creating new families, the use of someone else's genetic material raises complex legal and public policy issues that touch on technological anxiety, eugenics, reproductive autonomy, identity, and family structure. How should the use of gametic material be regulated? Should recipients be able to choose the "best" sperm and eggs? Should a child ever be able to discover the identity of her gamete donor? Who can claim parental rights?

Naomi R. Cahn explores these issues and many more in Test Tube Families, noting that although such questions are fundamental to the new reproductive technologies, there are few definitive answers currently provided by the law, ethics, or cultural norms. As a new generation of "donor kids" comes of age, Cahn calls for better regulation of ART, exhorting legal and policy-making communities to cease applying piecemeal laws and instead create legislation that sustains the fertility industry while simultaneously protecting the interests of donors, recipients, and the children that result from successful transfers.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A lawyer who teaches family law at Georgetown Univ., Cahn (co-author, Contemporary Family Law) presents a fascinating look into the workings of reproductive law by exploring the complex process by which, for an increasing number of modern families, "biology, medicine, human determination, and the law bring babies into being." Artificial Reproductive Technology-in vitro fertilization, surrogate mothers-has become a multi-billion dollar industry that is, in the U.S., comparatively unregulated. Because family law differs across states, everything from the liability of fertility clinics to the rights of donors, donor children and the hopeful couples create a thicket of legal issues. Complicated contesting claims include a 2006 case in which an Ohio couple, James Flynn and Eileen Donich, sued their gestational carrier, Penn. resident Danielle Bimber, when she refused to give up her triplets. The case was tried in both states, and ultimately decided in favor of Flynn-the biological father-but not Donich, who was accorded no standing by the court. Cahn's case for a uniform, federal legal code is compelling and vivid. (Jan.).
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814716823
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/2009
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Naomi Cahn is the John Theodore Fey Research Professor of Law at George Washington University Law School. Her previous books include Red Families v. Blue Families, Test Tube Families (NYU Press 2009), Families By Law: An Adoption Reader (NYU Press 2004), and Confinements: Fertility and Infertility in Contemporary Culture.


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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Pt. I Initial Conceptions

1 The Treatment Plan for Legal Issues 13

2 The Treatment Plan for Creating Babies 29

Pt. II The State of ART

3 Market Regulation 43

4 Parenting Regulation 73

5 Donating to Parenthood 88

6 Donor Identity 114

Pt. III Race, Class, and Gender: Who Benefits?

7 Barriers to Conception 133

8 Expensive Dreams 145

9 What Is Wrong with Technology? 165

Pt. IV Baby Steps Forward

10 Baby Steps: Going to Market 189

11 Five-Parent Families? A Proposition 201

12 Finding Out 215

Conclusion 235

Notes 239

Index 289

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