Reproductive medicine is a field—like genetics and others—in which advances in medical science and technology often outpace society’s opportunity for due deliberation about their ethical use. Employing preimplantation genetic diagnosis followed by embryo selection to choose the sex (and potentially other traits) of a child is just one example. Contributors to the October issue discuss the many questions and tensions that surround evolving technologies and practices—from those that prevent or enable conception to those used in hospital labor wards.
Physicians may and should make recommendations to women for maintaining a healthy pregnancy, but until the time a baby is born, the pregnant woman alone should have the last word in deciding what happens to her fetus.
Industrialized nations could benefit from strategies emerging in developing nations such as respectful collaboration between traditional out-of-hospital birthing practices and maternity units in partnering hospitals.