Institut für Ethik und Geschichte der Medizin
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'Cross-cultural Reproductive Ethics: Germany and India'

Reproductive technologies such as prenatal diagnosis (PND) and In-vitro Fertilization (IVF) offer a plethora of possibilities for individuals to plan their family. Some of these possibilities include surrogacy, egg/sperm donation and selective abortions. However, differential socio-cultural conditions and legal guidelines have led to individuals either carving out desired possibilities in the existing cultural context and/or seeking transnational reproductive health care services. These activities redefine the concept of global health care and opens up contested avenues in which the use of reproductive technologies in the backdrop of individual and collective socio-cultural notions of desires, infertility, religion and kinship are in interface with legal regulations, health care services and medical ethics discourses. The projects on reproductive technologies features the ethical discourse of the growing global use of these technologies and the socio-ethical and regulatory challenges that it has posed in Europe and Asia.

  

A Study of ‘Desired Children’ in Germany and India as a context leading to prenatal genetic diagnosis and selective abortions

Funded by:
DFG (Jan 2014-Dec 2017)

Research Team
Sheela Saravanan - Senior Researcher [more]
Julia Perry – Research Assistant [more]

Participating Institutions
Prof. Tulsi Patel
Delhi School of Economics,
University of Delhi,
Delhi-110007
+91-(0)11-27667858
(sociology_dse@yahoo.com)

Prof. Dr. med. Günter Emons and Frau Dr. med. Barbara Felke
Die Universitätsfrauenklinik Göttingen.
Robert-Koch-Str. 40, 37075 Göttingen
Fon: +49 551 39-6500
Fax: +49 551 39-6585
(http://wwwuser.gwdg.de/~ukfh/UFK/perinatalzentrum.html)


Summary
Prenatal and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis makes it possible for people to choose their desired children based on genetic attributes such as; gender and disability. The known reasons for such selective abortions include attributes such as; (un)desirable gender, sensory, cognitive, or physical impairment, or desired genetic properties. Ethical voices and the gender/disability rights movement worldwide raise concerns that selecting attributes of children based on gender, disease or disability is morally problematic because it embodies and reinforces prejudices. This study aims to examine individual notion of a desired child (Wunschkinder/Vansh) shaped by the social experiences in the German and Indian contexts that lead to selective abortions. The research draws conceptually on the works of Mead 1962, symbolic interactionism between the self and the generalized other, Lindemann 1996, Kessler and McKenna 1978, gender and disability as a social construct in the context of Körper and Leib in shaping the notion of desired children. This study applies methodological approaches of Garfinkels, (1967) phenomenology in ethnomethodology as it provides insight on individual conduct/thought and forms of social organization. Qualitative methodology of in-depth interviews will be used in clinical and family settings in Germany and India with mothers and family members and structured interviews will be conducted with medical practitioners and personnel from research institutions and selected government programmes. This will add knowledge conceptually and methodologically to the above given theories and research methods. The cross-cultural analysis is a significant aspect of this study because it aims to bring out the deeper life mechanisms that are embedded in different cultural frameworks. The notion of Wunschkinder in Germany and India has not been examined earlier, this study aims to fill in this gap and contribute in a unique way to the ongoing socio-ethical debates on prenatal screening and selective abortions.

 

 

Contested Avenues of Reproductive Technologies: A Study of Transnational Transfers and Cross-cultural Practices

Funded by
German Academic Exchange Service and
University Grants Commission, India

German Research Team
Prof. Dr. Silke Schicktanz (German Team Head) [more]
Dr. Sheela Saravanan (Researcher in the DFG project) [more]
Ms. Sayani Mitra (PhD Student) [more]

Indian Research Team
Prof. Tulsi Patel (Indian Team Head)
Ms. Garima Yadav (PhD student at University of Delhi)

Project Summary
Assisted reproductive technologies (ART) such as prenatal diagnosis (PND) and In-vitro Fertilization (IVF) offer a plethora of possibilities for individuals to plan their family. Some of these possibilities include; surrogacy, selective abortions. However, differential socio-cultural conditions and legal guidelines have led to individuals either carving out desired possibilities based on the existing cultural context and/or seeking transnational reproductive health care services. This study aims to explore in a German-Indian context, how these assisted reproductive technologies redefine global health care and open up contested avenues in which individual and collective socio-cultural notions of desires, infertility, religion and kinship are in interface with legal regulations, health care services and medical ethics discourses. The proposed project is a significant contribution to the ethical discourse of the growing global use of assisted reproductive technologies and the socio-ethical and regulatory challenges that it has posed. The aim of the project is to strengthen network based on the common research interests through sharing information, guiding students, joint publications and to evolve into a larger Indo-German socio-ethical project on genomics and reproductive technologies.