The Handmaid's Tale of Fertility Tourism: Passports and Third Parties in the Religious Regulation of Assisted Conception
24 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2007
Infertility is a devastating global malady triggering worldwide demand for a vast array of reproduction assisting technologies. Infertility is particularly devastating those "pronatalist" societies marked by high rates of infertility and large disparities in access to medical services. Poverty in particular impedes large segments of the population in pronatalist Third World countries from gaining access even to very basic techniques of infertility treatment and consigns them to ineffective traditional remedies. In this Article drawing on both ethnographic work on infertility in the Third World and on Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, Professor Storrow examines two starkly class-stratified societies where reproduction is regulated by means of rigid adherence to religious doctrine. He notes in particular that in such societies the participation of third-party gamete donors and surrogates in the reproductive process seems to depend upon whether the society in question is devoted to a program of repopulation. Where it is, Storrow finds a potent metaphor in fertility tourism where infertile couples of means treat third parties from disenfranchised groups as "passports" to reproduction. Storrow concludes that in resource-poor, pronatalist societies, programs of repopulation are a tipping point beyond which exploitation of third parties in infertility treatment is actively pursued and expediently justified.
Keywords: human reproductive technology-law and legislation, human reproduction-moral and ethical aspects, infertility, pronatalism
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