Capacity and Autonomy: A Thought Experiment on Minors’ Access to Assisted Reproductive Technology


This project takes up a blind spot in reproductive decision-making; it considers minors’ capacity to make informed decisions regarding the use of assisted reproductive technology (ART). It also offers a departure from traditional reproductive health framing, and takes an interdisciplinary approach to analyze the legal, medical, and psychological discourses concerning the rights, capability, and capacity of minors to consent to health care and medical procedures. That analysis serves as a backdrop to test a thought experiment on the socio-medical risks and benefits of controlled access to ART for minors.

This article offers critical analysis of three situations for which we may wish to evaluate adolescent use of ART: (1) adolescents as cancer survivors or youth facing impending loss of fertility due to other medical conditions or illness, (2) adolescents as altruistic donors for ailing relatives who wish to parent, perhaps analogized to situations of sibling donor status or other familial organ and tissue donation, and (3) adolescents living separately from and financially independent of parents or legal guardians in a marriage relationship.

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