Assisted reproductive technology and the modern family


  • Joseph J. Kotva Jr. IU School of Medicine – South Bend


assisted reproductive technology, in vitro fertilization, Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis, childlessness, infertility, embryos, genetics, family


Assisted reproductive technology (ART) presents us with a new reality, and the concept of family is now entirely open. To be sure, families have always been cobbled together. Infidelity, adoption, divorce and remarriage, tribal alliances, even baptism’s imagery of joining a new people have pushed against solely genetic concepts of family. But our current reality goes further. As Liza Mundy points out, “Never before in history has it been possible for a woman to give birth to an infant who is genetically unrelated to her. Never before has it been possible for women to be the genetic parent of living children to whom she has not given birth.” So, too, never before has it been possible for genetic offspring to be born to deceased parents. Never before have we seen detailed planning in advance for families to have one parent or many parents, with complex or nonexistent genetic relationships. Never before did gay couples create families through donated eggs and the borrowed wombs of surrogates. Never before did lesbian and gay couples coparent children with genetic relationships to both sets of parents. Never before could we guarantee the sex of our children or eliminate from the start the possibility of various disabilities. Never before could prospective parents shop online for the height, weight, skin color, eye color, hair color, or athletic and academic achievements of the donors from whom will come the sperm and eggs that will merge to create their children.

Author Biography

Joseph J. Kotva Jr., IU School of Medicine – South Bend

Joe Kotva Jr., PhD, is a professor of medicine, lifelong photographer, bicycle advocate, father, husband, virtue ethicist, and former Mennonite pastor. He is co-editor, with M. Therese Lysaught, of On Moral Medicine: Theological Perspectives on Medical Ethics, 3rd ed., and co-director of the Scholarly Concentration in Ethics, Equity, and Justice at the IU School of Medicine – South Bend.