J Med Ethics doi:10.1136/medethics-2013-101716
  • Political philosophy & medical ethics
  • Paper

What would an environmentally sustainable reproductive technology industry look like?

Press Release
  1. Cristina Richie
  1. Correspondence to Cristina Richie, Theology Department, Boston College, Stokes 310N Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, USA; RichieC{at}
  • Received 18 July 2013
  • Revised 13 April 2014
  • Accepted 24 April 2014
  • Published Online First 24 July 2014


Through the use of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs), multiple children are born adding to worldwide carbon emissions. Evaluating the ethics of offering reproductive services against its overall harm to the environment makes unregulated ARTs unjustified, yet the ART business can move towards sustainability as a part of the larger green bioethics movement. By integrating ecological ethos into the ART industry, climate change can be mitigated and the conversation about consumption can become a broader public discourse. Although the impact of naturally made children on the environment is undeniable, I will focus on the ART industry as an anthropogenic source of carbon emissions which lead to climate change. The ART industry is an often overlooked source of environmental degradation and decidedly different from natural reproduction as fertility centres provide a service for a fee and therefore can be subject to economic, policy and bioethical scrutiny. In this article, I will provide a brief background on the current state of human-driven climate change before suggesting two conservationist strategies that can be employed in the ART business. First, endorsing a carbon capping programme that limits the carbon emissions of ART businesses will be proposed. Second, I will recommend that policymakers eliminate funded ARTs for those who are not biologically infertile. I will conclude the article by urging policymakers and all those concerned with climate change to consider the effects of the reproductive technologies industry in light of climate change and move towards sustainability.

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