Societal Disregard for the Needs of the Infertile
Oxford Handbook of Reproductive Ethics, Forthcoming
33 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2015 Last revised: 13 Aug 2015
Date Written: July 25, 2015
Social policies in the United States often favor families and encourage reproduction — but not for infertile persons. When the infertile want to have children, health care funding policy, legal rules, and popular sentiments generally are not very sympathetic. Infertile couples typically must rely on their own resources to procreate, without reimbursement by their health insurance, the law may erect barriers to assisted reproductive services, as with prohibitions against surrogate motherhood, and infertile couples may not find much concern for their plight from friends or even some family members.
Such discounting of the needs of the infertile is unjust and reflects a misunderstanding of the nature of infertility. Infertility is a disability — and a very serious one for some people — yet it is often misperceived as not a real handicap or even as enabling. Scholars writing on reproductive issues frequently valorize life without children. These societal sentiments are reflected in anti-discrimination law. The protections that persons with other disabilities enjoy do not extend to the infertile. Respect for the fundamental interest in reproduction justifies changes in social attitudes and reforms in the law to ensure fair treatment for the infertile.
Keywords: infertility, Americans with Disabilities Act, surrogate motherhood, in vitro fertilization, uterus transplantation, equal protection
JEL Classification: I10, I18, K19
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation