Hastings Law Journal


In this commentary, Professor Crossley uses Professor Shapiro's Article as a springboard for considering two practices that increasingly are becoming part of the new reproductive landscape: selective reduction of multiple pregnancy and prenatal genetic testing to enable selective abortion. Professor Crossley considers how these practices might affect our understanding of personhood, particularly with respect to the types of criticisms that Professor Shapiro addresses in his Article. The nature of the threat to personhood posed by the use of selective reduction depends on whether a couple pursuing aggressive infertility treatment is fully informed, prior to commencing treatment, of the risks of multiple pregnancy and the availability of selective reduction; some impact on our respect for persons, however,may occur in either scenario. With respect to prenatal genetic testing, Professor Crossley articulates arguments that the practice may erode the noncontingent bonds between parent and child, promote eugenic attitudes, and encourage reductivism in how persons are understood in our society.

Acknowledging that the concerns about the impact of selective reduction and prenatal testing are speculative, Professor Crossley's suggested response is to pay more attention to the context in which decisions about the use of new reproductive technologies are made. The purpose is to encourage the shaping of contexts that will encourage informed, reflective, values-based decision making. Aside from any possible impact on the substantive outcome of decisions, simply engaging in the process of moral reasoning strengthens our personhood and thus buttresses it against any threats posed by the new reproductive technologies.

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