, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 41-49

Assisted Reproduction: Managing an Unruly Technology

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Abstract

Technology is “unruly” because it operates in a social context where it is shaped by institutions, organisations and individuals in ways not envisaged when it was first developed. In the UK assisted reproductive technology has developed from strictly circumscribed beginnings as a treatment for infertility within the NHS, to a service which is more often offered by commercial clinics and purchased by clients who are not necessarily infertile. The article considers the process by which assisted reproductive technology has been created and developed, a process which is ideological rather than technical, and the social implications of its ever expanding use. In a society where the discourse around reproduction and family life is one of choice and acceptance of diversity of life styles, the conditions are set for further “unruliness” supported by clinicians and commercial interests. The HFEA, public consultations and media coverage tend to subscribe to the way ethical issues are framed by those interested parties, an approach that favours increased liberalisation.