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Postmenopausal motherhood reloaded

Conference paper
Authors Daniela Cutas
Published in MANCEPT Workshops in Political Theory 2012
Publication year 2012
Published at Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science
Language en
Keywords postmenopausal motherhood, bioethics, artificial gametes
Subject categories Ethics


"Motherhood after the age of the menopause, facilitated by in vitro fertilisation technologies (IVF), has raised much controversy in the last decade. The achievement of pregnancy in postmenopausal women has so far involved donated oocytes. This was the case for several reasons. Firstly, technology did not allow the adequate preservation of oocytes. Secondly, postmenopausal women either lacked own viable oocytes, or the risks involved in using their own (aged) oocytes would have been too high. Some of the objections to allowing the use of the technology in such cases have been formulated in terms of the burden that donating oocytes imposes on the donors. Given that postmenopausal motherhood is a controversial achievement, involving (incrementally) higher risks at all levels (of miscarriage, of need for C-section, of parental loss too early in life), it is often argued that such uses of the technology and donor eggs should not be supported or allowed at all. Moreover, gamete donation does not provide women with “their own” children: and this may be seen as a shortcoming both by opponents of such uses, and by the prospective mothers themselves. Due to recent developments, however, oocytes can now be preserved, and it may become feasible to create oocytes from women’s genetic material. These two possibilities avoid the abovementioned two objections, and multiply the range of choices that prospective mothers after the age of the menopause may have in the future. In this presentation (and draft paper) I will be looking at these possibilities and what they mean for arguments in the area of the ethics and policy of postmenopausal motherhood."

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