Contextualizing a medical breakthrough: An overview of the case of IVF

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In this article I examine the ways in which the technology of in vitro fertilization (IVF) is embedded in prevailing sociocultural perceptions and power relations in North American and Western European contexts. From this perspective, I look at the efforts involved in developing reproductive technologies and at the particular direction such attempts have taken. I then examine the policies and laws through which IVF is regulated; the technical characteristics of the technology and its implementation; the social implications of IVF for poorer women, women of color, and single and lesbian women; and the media coverage of the subject. Women's responses to IVF and their roles in its shaping are also addressed. I conclude with a reference to the social and cultural repercussions of IVF in the industrialized world. The overview suggests that IVF embodies social continuity while also encapsulating a potential for radical social transformations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)591-607
Number of pages17
JournalHealth Care for Women International
Issue number7
StatePublished - Aug 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Professions (all)


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