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This article, written in the last ten years of the 20th century, presents an historical metric of geopolitical, socio-legal, ethical, medical, and religious responses to noncoital reproduction in Australia, Britain, Germany, and the United States — as well as the various efforts of the United Nations — to protect reproductive freedoms as human rights. From this analysis will come an understanding of how these responses shape normative values, principles, regulatory policies and laws which in turn seek — at various levels — to monitor and even control scientific inquiry, advance social justice and safeguard procreative liberties for women. The U.S. Supreme Court, in Webster v. Reproductive Services in 1989, termed the issue of procreative liberty, “the most politically divisive domestic legal issue of our time.”

The conclusion reached from this article is that an ethic of scientific humanism should mandate continued research into work the goal of which is to advance the public welfare safeguarding maternal health and, at the same time, protecting fetal care. Stated otherwise, so long as the central driving force in marital relationships continues to be procreation and the family unit remains the core of a progressive society, scientific efforts should be pursued which seek to expand the period of fecundity, combat infertility, and assure both fetal and maternal care and — thus — work toward the goal of minimizing suffering and maximizing the quality of public health.



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