UC Law Journal


Many legal scholars and social commentators have heralded the new reproductive technologies as inherently progressive and liberating since not only do they enable sterile families to bear their own children, but they also permit novel family arrangements.

In her essay, however, Professor Dorothy Roberts argues that these technologies serve to reinforce the status quo, rather than to challenge it. In particular, Roberts argues that race influences the choice of in vitro fertilization. Roberts focuses on the negative impact that images of and the racial disparity in the choice of in vitro fertilization have on racial inequality in America. She argues that a complex interplay of financial barriers, cultural preferences, and deliberate professional manipulation, have resulted in few African-American women taking advantage of in vitro fertilization. Moreover, Roberts links in vitro fertilization to the premium that white society places on having a genetic tie with one's children, a premium that is founded in beliefs of white racial superiority.

Because of this negative impact on American society, Roberts considers three options for public policy regarding in vitro fertilization: continuing to allow its use, while recognizing the role of race in selecting reproductive technologies; increasing access to reproductive technologies for non-white women; and discouraging the use of these technologies altogether.

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