In recent decades, reproductive technologies have enabled novel uses of family members’ reproductive materials (such as gametes or uteri) or functions (such as pregnancy). These include conceiving children after the death of a spouse at the initiative of the other spouse, or after the death of one or both prospective biological parents at the initiative of their parents; invasive fertility preservation measures undertaken on children at the request of their parents; or women receiving uterus transplants from their own mothers. These new types of connections between family members will only grow in number and complexity as new technologies proliferate. The possibility to turn non-reproductive cells into gametes could in the future greatly facilitate opportunities to create or preserve fertility. The prospect of gestation outside the body could similarly bring about significant innovations in family connections.
For the purposes of this talk, by intrafamilial reproduction I mean those instances in which family members direct the collection or use of other family members’ reproductive potential. While the purported motivations behind such claims have varied, they have in common the fact that their realisation depends on the cooperation of healthcare services. Access to healthcare services such as reproductive technologies depends on whether one’s claim is perceived – and accepted as – the expression of a legitimate medical need for the intervention in question. In my talk, I will explore the role that the conceptual entity that is the family and assumptions about normal life trajectories have in the determination of whether familial claims to reproductive interventions should be supported.