Regulatory Responses to the Gendering of Transgenerational Harm

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Journal Article
Australian Feminist Studies, 2016, 31 (88), pp. 139 - 153
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© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Laws and regulatory guidelines dealing with assisted reproductive technology in Australia and elsewhere typically operate on the principle that the physical and psychological well-being of the person who might be created using the technology must be an active consideration. An ethical/legal problem arises when future persons are protected at the expense of existing persons. This occurs when women, who create and gestate these future persons, are socially, legally and medically positioned as transgenerational vectors of harm, and are subject to pressure to act for the benefit of people who do not yet and may never come to exist. This paper explores the way women are understood, in science and law, as subject to situational and environmental harms as well as constituting a (prenatal) environment for the perpetuation of those harms. Finally, recognising that harm is itself actively gendered, this paper also explores how gendered assumptions are smuggled into legal explanations of disease and its causes and how this might impact regulatory responses.
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