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Assisted reproductive technologies and equity of access issues
  1. M M Peterson
  1. Correspondence to:
 M M Peterson
 Philosophy Department, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia;


In Australia and other countries, certain groups of women have traditionally been denied access to assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs). These typically are single heterosexual women, lesbians, poor women, and those whose ability to rear children is questioned, particularly women with certain disabilities or who are older. The arguments used to justify selection of women for ARTs are most often based on issues such as scarcity of resources, and absence of infertility (in lesbians and single women), or on social concerns: that it “goes against nature”; particular women might not make good mothers; unconventional families are not socially acceptable; or that children of older mothers might be orphaned at an early age. The social, medical, legal, and ethical reasoning that has traditionally promoted this lack of equity in access to ARTs, and whether the criteria used for client deselection are ethically appropriate in any particular case, are explored by this review. In addition, the issues of distribution and just “gatekeeping” practices associated with these sensitive medical services are examined.

  • AID, artificial insemination by donor
  • ART, assisted reproductive technology
  • CSDA, Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act
  • IVF, in vitro fertilisation
  • NHMRC, National Health and Medical Research Council
  • assisted reproductive technologies
  • ethics
  • lesbian
  • postmenopausal
  • social justice

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