Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 347–355 | Cite as

Lesbian shared biological motherhood: the ethics of IVF with reception of oocytes from partner

  • Kristin ZeilerEmail author
  • Anna Malmquist
Scientific Contribution


In vitro fertilization (IVF) with reception of oocytes from partners (ROPA) allows lesbian mothers to share biological motherhood. The gestational mother receives an egg from her partner who becomes the genetic mother. This article examines the ethics of IVF with ROPA with a focus on the welfare of the woman and the resulting child, on whether ROPA qualifies as a “legitimate” medical therapy that falls within the goals of medicine, and on the meaning and value attributed to a biologically shared bond between parents and child. We also contrast IVF with ROPA with egg donor IVF for heterosexual couples and intrafamilial live uterus transplantation with IVF, and show how Swedish legislation makes certain ways of sharing biological bonds out of place. In Sweden, IVF with ROPA is illegal, egg donor IVF for heterosexual couples is allowed and practiced as is sperm donor IVF for lesbians, and live uterus transplantation is performed within a research project (though not allowed in regular health care). But is ROPA really ethically more problematic than these other cases? The article argues that IVF with ROPA gives rise to fewer ethical questions than does live uterus transplantation with IVF and, in some cases, egg donor IVF.


Ethics Reception of oocytes from partner Oocyte donation Shared biological motherhood Lesbian Live uterus transplantation Egg donor IVF 



The article is part of Malmquist’s work within the project Swedish Lesbigay Families in the Twentieth Century—Parenthood in a Time of Legislative Changes, financed by the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working-life, and Welfare, and of Zeiler’s work on bodily giving and sharing in medicine as a Pro Futura Scientia Fellow. The Pro Futura Scientia Program is a collaboration between the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study, Uppsala University and Riksbankens Jubileumsfond. We thank all these for financial support for this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medical and Health SciencesLinköping UniversityLinköpingSweden
  2. 2.The Swedish Collegium for Advanced StudyUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden
  3. 3.Department of Behavioural Sciences and LearningLinköping UniversityLinköpingSweden

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