The international growth and influence of bioethics has led some to identify it as a decisive shift in the location and exercise of 'biopower'. This book provides an in-depth study of how philosophers, lawyers and other 'outsiders' came to play a major role in discussing and helping to regulate issues that used to be left to doctors and scientists. It discusses how club regulation stemmed not only from the professionalising tactics of doctors and scientists, but was compounded by the 'hands-off' approach of politicians and professionals in fields such as law, philosophy and theology. The book outlines how theologians such as Ian Ramsey argued that 'transdisciplinary groups' were needed to meet the challenges posed by secular and increasingly pluralistic societies. It also examines their links with influential figures in the early history of American bioethics. The book centres on the work of the academic lawyer Ian Kennedy, who was the most high-profile advocate of the approach he explicitly termed 'bioethics'. It shows how Mary Warnock echoed governmental calls for external oversight. Many clinicians and researchers supported her calls for a 'monitoring body' to scrutinise in vitro fertilisation and embryo research. The growth of bioethics in British universities occurred in the 1980s and 1990s with the emergence of dedicated centres for bioethics. The book details how some senior doctors and bioethicists led calls for a politically-funded national bioethics committee during the 1980s. It details how recent debates on assisted dying highlight the authority and influence of British bioethicists.
are sought-after ‘ethics
experts’ with important positions on regulatory committees and
considerable public authority.50 But our appreciation of how and
why they attained this status is sketchy at best. Existing accounts,
such as a chapter in the World History of Medical Ethics, adhere to
the ‘origin myth’ model and claim that bioethics emerged in Britain
after new technologies and radical politics fostered greater discussion of science and medicine during the 1960s and 1970s.51 But
while issues such as clinical research and invitrofertilisation (IVF)
During the 1960s and 1970s Anglican theologians increasingly endorsed 'trans-disciplinary' discussion of new procedures such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF) in societies and journals dedicated to medical ethics. Figures such as Ian Ramsey, an Oxford theologian and later Bishop of Durham, endorsed greater engagement with social and moral issues to maintain the Church's relevance in the face of increasing secularisation. He viewed theologians as the 'common link' who facilitated debates between 'experts in different disciplines and from different occupations'. This was especially the case for discussions of medical and biological research, which Ramsey considered to be the major source of 'frontier problems' in the 1960s and 1970s. Joseph Fletcher, professor of Christian ethics at the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was one of first American theologians to look at scientific and medical ethics.
The political enthusiasm for external oversight was made clear in 1982 when officials at the Department for Health and Social Security (DHSS) broke from the longstanding reliance on scientific and medical expertise. It prioritised 'an outside chairman' for their public inquiry into in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and embryo experiments. Mary Warnock's appointment as chair of the IVF inquiry provided her with the chance to engage with practical affairs and led other philosophers to view bioethics as the most profitable branch of what Peter Singer called 'applied ethics'. While the Warnock committee, the press, scientists and politicians all agreed on the need for external oversight, there was less consensus when it came to deciding specific policies for embryo research. While the Warnock committee was disagreeing over embryo research, Robert Edwards used the prospect of moral disagreement to revive his opposition to outside involvement with science and medicine.
and in accordance with
national legislation. The World Congress also participated in action and
consultation aimed at ensuring that this would continue in the 8th Framework
Programme, now called Horizon 2020.
Another important achievement involved Costa Rica. In 2012 a hearing
was held at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights concerning Costa
Rican law which prohibited invitrofertilisation. Two doctors from Costa
Rica participated in one of the national meetings of the World Congress.
The World Congress deposited a third-party judgment (amicus curiae) in
Simona Giordano, John Harris, and Lucio Piccirillo
, such as invitrofertilisation, allow a woman
to give birth to a child who is not genetically her own, or to a child who
bears genetic material from both herself and another woman (via, for
example, mitochondrial DNA transfer). A man can become at the same
time a mother and a father (as in the case of the transman who has oocytes
harvested prior to transition, or as in the case of the transman who does
not seek genital confirmation surgery and thus retains the uterus and ovaries
– biologically these people are mothers to their children, but socially and
not be eligible for the
same opportunity to gestate as cis women. Noting that other forms of
assisted reproduction technology, such as fertility medication, artificial
insemination, invitrofertilisation and surrogacy, are regularly offered to
both cis women and trans people, Murphy asks why this particular form
of assisted reproduction should only be offered for cis women. To be sure,
during the early phases of uterus transplantation research, it may make
sense to start with cis women, where the procedure is less technically
complicated; however, once many of the
The book explores the relationship between violence against women on one hand,
and the rights to health and reproductive health on the other. It argues that
violation of the right to health is a consequence of violence, and that (state)
health policies might be a cause of – or create the conditions for – violence
against women. It significantly contributes to feminist and international human
rights legal scholarship by conceptualising a new ground-breaking idea, violence
against women’s health (VAWH), using the Hippocratic paradigm as the backbone of
the analysis. The two dimensions of violence at the core of the book – the
horizontal, ‘interpersonal’ dimension and the vertical ‘state policies’
dimension – are investigated through around 70 decisions of domestic, regional
and international judicial or quasi-judicial bodies (the anamnesis). The concept
of VAWH, drawn from the anamnesis, enriches the traditional concept of violence
against women with a human rights-based approach to autonomy and a reflection on
the pervasiveness of patterns of discrimination (diagnosis). VAWH as theorised
in the book allows the reconceptualisation of states’ obligations in an
innovative way, by identifying for both dimensions obligations of result, due
diligence obligations, and obligations to progressively take steps (treatment).
The book eventually asks whether it is not international law itself that is the
ultimate cause of VAWH (prognosis).
integrate the individual experiences of sterile couples, which had been absent from the public debate on infertility until then. It reflects her own medical ethic, which placed individual experiences and needs at the core of her practice. Second, it shows that infertility, while known by everyone, was not publicly recognised. Despite the repeated attacks on the practice, women doctors persisted in helping the patients who asked for AID. The procedure therefore continued to be practised alongside new assisted reproductive technologies, such as invitrofertilisation
A conceptualisation of violence against women’s health (VAWH)
Sara De Vido
involves choosing the gender or physical
appearance of the foetus, but also access to abortion or invitrofertilisation.’
117 See McLean, Autonomy, Consent, pp. 13–14, referring to works by Kant, Mill and
118 Friedman, Autonomy, Gender, Politics, p. 81.
119 McLean, Autonomy, Consent, p. 6. See N. Stoljar, ‘Feminist perspectives on autonomy’, in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2015), available at https://plato.
120 C. Gilligan, In a Different Voice (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press