Cultural Priorities Revealed: The Development and Regulation of Assisted Reproduction in the United States and Israel

43 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2020


A nation's approach to the burgeoning ART industry reflects deep-rooted cultural imperatives. Choices regarding how ART should be regulated and funded, as well as how ART-related disputes should be mediated, reflect both specific attitudes toward family and parenthood, as well as broader notions about the role of the state in encouraging or impeding novel family forms.

The United States and Israel are widely regarded as possessing two of the most ART-friendly environments in the world. Both countries stand at the epicenter of fertility-related research and practice and support the supply and demand sides of the ART market with avidity. Yet, the flourishing of ART in each country takes a different form, shaped by divergent legal and financial policies reflecting deeper cultural values.

This article takes a comparative approach to assisted reproduction practices and regulation in Israel and the United States, focusing on the imprint of cultural priorities on each nation's legal framework and financial policies. Part I examines Israeli and American cultural features that influence emerging ART practices. Part II reviews the use and financing of artificial insemination and IVF in Israel and the United States, including the state's role in the delivery of these services. Part III turns to ART's aftermath - examining how disputes regarding the disposition of frozen embryos are handled in each country.

The future of ART will be shaped by how the culture wars in each country are fought and won. And, while it seems clear that culture will powerfully mark the development of ART, it remains unclear whether the relationship between national values and ART might someday become more mutually transforming. If today, ART serves primarily as a map on which we can read a nation's cultural geography, perhaps in the future a nation's experience with ART will inspire change in traditional understandings of kinship, parenthood and the state's role in facilitating family.

Keywords: Assisted Reproduction, Artificial Insemination, Frozen embryos, Comparative Study Israel and United States

Suggested Citation

Waldman, Ellen, Cultural Priorities Revealed: The Development and Regulation of Assisted Reproduction in the United States and Israel. Health Matrix: Journal of Law-Medicine, Vol. 16, p. 65, 2006; TJSL Legal Studies Research Paper No. 918802. Available at SSRN:

Ellen Waldman (Contact Author)

Thomas Jefferson School of Law ( email )

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