, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 147-156
Date: 23 Mar 2012

An Ethic of Care and Responsibility: Reflections on Third-Party Reproduction

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The rapid development of assisted reproduction technologies for the treatment of infertility appears to empower women through expanding their individual choice, but it is also creating new forms of suffering for them and their collaborators, especially in the context of transnational third-party reproduction. This paper explores the possibility of framing the ethical discourse around third-party reproduction by bringing attention to concerns of altruistic empathy for women who collaborate in the reproductive process, in addition to those of individualistic choice. This would entail moving beyond an ethic of liberty that is based on self-interest and the language of rights, to an alternative ethic of care that is based on self-restraint and the language of responsibilities. An ethic of care and responsibility would cultivate the empathetic self-reflection of the autonomous actor in relation to those others who are part of the enterprise of bringing a child into the world.

This is part of a paper that was presented at the Bioethics Colloquium Series of the Bioethics Education Platform, Innsbruck Medical University and the Institute for Christian Philosophy, Innsbruck University, on October 12, 2010. My thanks to Prof. Gabriele Werner-Felmayer for her invaluable intellectual insights.