Health Care Analysis

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 155-169

First online:

Gametes, Law and Modern Preoccupations

  • Thérèse MurphyAffiliated withSchool of Law, University of Nottingham

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This article surveys a range of recent media storiesabout human gametes, pinning them to a series of widerpreoccupations within late modern life. Threepreoccupations are singled out: first, kinship andrelational identity; secondly, Nature andglobalisation; and finally, sexual difference andequality. Each one of these preoccupations has beencharacterised as iconic; debates about them are saidto crystallise who we are, especially ouruncertainties, and what we will be in the future. Byindexing these preoccupations to the stories abouthuman gametes, the article aims to upset both theincreasing attempts to present assisted reproductiontechnologies as `familiar' (as Nature's `helpinghand', for example) and the recurringassumptions about this technology's alleged`novelty' and `anomaly'. The article concludesthat treating reproduction technologies, and theirregulation, as `familiar' risks complacency:equally, assumptions about their `novelty' narrowsthe search for effective explanatory tools andregulatory mechanisms. The upshot is that it might bebest for us to view reproductive technologies as bothless `familiar' and less `novel'.

gametes globalisation identity kinship law nature sexual difference