The use of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) is rising, and not just among the wealthy and the weird. Media accounts of unnatural multiples (think Nadya Suleman) and aging celebrities having children (Cheryl Tiegs, twins at age 52; Jane Seymour, twins at age 45; Joan Lunden, two sets of twins through a surrogate at age 52 and 54) represent the exceptions, not the norm. The most common user of reproductive technologies today may be an average American couple or single woman unable to have children naturally.
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Americans use in-vitro fertilization (IVF) at a rate of 236 per 100,000 -- for a total of more than 70,000 nationwide. And that's just IVF; many other means of assisted reproduction are increasingly available. As Americans continue to delay child-bearing, and as the availability of fertility treatments rises, we can expect more and more Christian couples to make use of reproductive technologies. But how ethical are such treatments? What key issues should couples wrestle with before using any type of assisted procreation? These are the kinds of questions medical ethicist Scott Rae and Dr. Joy Riley seek to answer in Outside the Womb.
The authors don't condemn ART, but they do call Christians to give careful thought to what God intended for the family and to the ethical issues involved in various fertility treatments. Readers of the book will be better equipped to think morally and biblically about ART, both as a social issue and as a personal issue that affects their own friends, church members, and families.
Professor of Philosophy of Religion and Ethics