Assisted reproductive technology, bioethics and literature: Progenitors and others' relatedness to embryos, androids, and children

Donna J Tocco-Greenaway, Salve Regina University


The dissertation explores the question, "With the use of assisted reproductive technology, what becomes of humanity?" The inquiry discusses the rise of ART, and the lack of uniform legal treatment of the human embryo. It investigates two scenarios where people use ART. One, progenitor couples using assisted reproductive technology (ART) and their relationship to their embryos, including those that are cryopreserved. The inquiry uses scholarly literature that studies relationships between progenitor couples and their embryos, including a multi-institutional study conducted on fertility patients' attitudes and opinions toward their cryopreserved embryos. It examines two Jodi Picoult novels, which portray the use of ART for begetting children as challenging the meaning of what it means to be a parent, partner, spouse, or family member. It considers narratives in both Picoult novels that use the findings from the studies to demonstrate how the characters are reacting to the possibilities ART offers. Picoult's novels, characterized as contemporary realistic fiction, are compared to novels of another type of popular fiction, alternate history, or science fiction. The second scenario involves societies using ART in futuristic novels and their relationship to their creations, including children that are cloned and androids that are manufactured. By comparing the two genres of popular fiction, it examines the relationality, or relatedness between people and the human or quasi-human beings that will be born from ART, in order to explore the impact ART has upon people. The thesis is that as assisted reproductive technology offers greater success in bringing embryos to term on our terms, such as pre-implantation diagnosis, the technology exerts pressures upon procreative couples and families that threaten to rupture the familial bond and reduce the status of their progeny to less than fully human.

Subject Area

Modern literature|Medical Ethics|Political science

Recommended Citation

Tocco-Greenaway, Donna J, "Assisted reproductive technology, bioethics and literature: Progenitors and others' relatedness to embryos, androids, and children" (2015). Doctoral Dissertations. AAI3725289.