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Keywords:

  • assisted reproduction;
  • reproductive regulation;
  • reproductive policy;
  • infertility;
  • reproductive justice

ABSTRACT

This paper interprets the British legislative process that initiated the first comprehensive national regulation of embryo research and fertility services and examines subsequent efforts to restrain the assisted reproduction industry. After describing and evaluating British regulatory measures, I consider successive failures to control the assisted reproduction industry in the US. I discuss disparities between UK and US regulatory initiatives and their bearing on regulation in other countries. Then I turn to the political and social structures in which the assisted reproduction industry is embedded. I argue that regulatory bodies are seldom neutral arbiters. They tend to respond most readily to special interests and neglect strategies that could more effectively meet the health needs of the people they represent. Neither national nor international bodies have aggressively pursued policies to harness the industry, reduce infertility rates, or meet the needs of people whose fertility is threatened by substandard healthcare and environmental neglect. In conclusion, I consider recent initiatives by activist groups to mount an alternative response to the industry's current practices and build a transnational reproductive justice movement.