Parenting ethics panel explores thorny issues posed by technology

STANFORD, Calif. - Advances in reproductive technologies have brought babies into the lives of thousands of yearning couples. But with those advances come some difficult questions: What is a parent? Who decides what a parent is? And will we, as a society, be satisfied with the answer?

Linda Giudice, MD, PhD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Stanford University School of Medicine, will delve into these and other thorny issues during a panel discussion at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Seattle. The panel, called "Creating a World We Won't Want to Inhabit?" begins Feb. 15 at 2:30 p.m.

Giudice and the other panelists will focus their comments on "Bloodlines: Technology Hits Home," a PBS documentary that aired nationally in June of 2003. The three-part show presented cases involving legal and ethical questions that sprouted from new reproductive and genetic technologies. "Noel Schwerin [writer, director and producer of the show] wanted people to think about what happens when technology is used in other situations besides traditional arrangements," said Giudice, who is also chief of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Stanford.

The documentary presented one scenario in which a baby was conceived by donor sperm and the egg of one woman, and was carried by that woman's lesbian partner. Who was the mother in this situation? "I would consider both women to be the mother, but legally, I don't know if there is an answer," Giudice said.

The documentary makes it clear that current laws are inadequate when applied to questions raised by these technologies; one physician interviewed on the program said fertility specialists are often the ones setting policy. "There is so little precedent for unique arrangements - and the arrangements are still fairly rare - that a lot of policies are being made on the spot," Giudice said. One of the biggest challenges is in the court, when such ar

Contact: Michelle Brandt
Stanford University Medical Center

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