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In Vitro Fertilization, Infertility, and the ‘Right to a Child’ in 1970s and 1980s Britain

  • Duncan Wilson
Chapter

Abstract

Professional, ethical, and public debates on in vitro fertilization (IVF) techniques have been dominated by questions of ‘rights’ since the 1960s. Historians have thus far presented an incomplete picture of these debates by focusing largely on questions surrounding the rights of in vitro embryos, including arguments for and against their ‘right to life’ at various stages of development. This chapter shows, however, that the rights of infertile women received greater emphasis during the 1970s. This emphasis did not stem from campaign groups or bioethicists who championed patient rights in this period, but arose from medical scientists who were keen to portray IVF as an important technique that supplemented rather than challenged traditional norms surrounding kinship, marriage, and the ‘nuclear family’.

Keywords

Bioethics IVF Medical paternalism Reproductive rights 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, University of ManchesterManchesterUK

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