Norms, Politics, and Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Policies: A Cross-National Comparative Analysis

Melinda Mills, University of Oxford

Increases in age at first birth and a related rise in infertility have resulted in a growth of ART (assisted reproductive technology) usage. Policies related to ART differ across countries. We demonstrate how three ART policies—couple and sexuality restrictions, number of embryos transferred, and cloning—are not purely formed on medical grounds but by socio-cultural norms. Data across the period 1998–2013 for 39 countries on aspects such as legislation, insurance coverage, affordability, utilization, and socio-cultural norms is analyzed. Preliminary results show that less approval of non-marital family forms are linked to more exclusive ART access. Widespread convictions that a fertilized egg is a human being is associated with a higher number of embryos being transferred. Favorable attitudes for therapeutic cloning are associated with more affordable treatments. We conclude by discussing how these policies have consequences for inequality of access and for health and wellbeing of mothers and children.

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 Presented in Session 89. Fertility, Family Planning, and Sexual Health: Policies and Politics