Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 55–70 | Cite as

On Procreative Responsibility in Assisted and Collaborative Reproduction



It is common practice to regard participants in assisted and collaborative reproduction (gamete donors, embryologists, fertility doctors, etc.) as simply providing a desired biological product or medical service. These agents are not procreators in the ordinary sense, nor do they stand in any kind of meaningful parental relation to the resulting offspring. This paper challenges the common view by defending a principle of procreative responsibility and then demonstrating that this standard applies as much to those who provide reproductive assistance in the form of medical services or gametes, as it does to coital reproducers or intending parents. Drawing on vocabulary from the common law tradition, I suggest that it may be helpful to refer to the various participants in assisted and collaborative reproduction (ACR) as accessories to procreation. Referring to the participants in ACR as accessories to procreation highlights the fact that these agents are not just providing medical services or products. They are participating in a supply chain designed to bring about new persons. I conclude by arguing that regulative standards in the fertility industry should be structured such that they permit, facilitate, and encourage agents to satisfy the requirements of procreative responsibility.


Procreation Responsibility Assisted Reproduction Collaborative Reproduction Gamete Donation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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