Reproductive Choices in a Broken World: Reflections on Ellen Painter Dollar’s No Easy Choice

My friend and fellow Patheos blogger Ellen Painter Dollar has written a book about reproductive technology in the context of faith and contemporary culture. It’s called No Easy Choice: A Story of Disability, Parenthood, and Faith in an Age of Advanced Reproduction, and today I have a review of the book on her.meneutics: Bearing Life in a Broken World. Later this afternoon, I will post a Q and A with Ellen about the book and ethical gray areas, opting out of reproductive technology, the limits of grace, and the role of the church in helping couples make ethical reproductive decisions.

My review begins:

Is donating sperm and eggs an act of kindness to a stranger or a breach of our common humanity? Should wealthy women be able to hire surrogate mothers to bear their babies? What are the ethical questions surrounding adoption, in vitro fertilization (IVF), and prenatal genetic testing? These topics make the headlines, from Time magazine—which recently profiled a man who has sired at least 70 offspring via sperm donation—to The Atlantic, which recently commented on the problematic ethics of a society in which everything is up for sale, to Ann Patchett’s recent novel State of Wonder, which explores the possibility of lifelong fertility.

From time eternal, men and women have been making babies, usually by choice, and usually in the old-fashioned way. But in recent years, making babies has become fraught with promises and possibilities never before imagined, whether the opportunity to conceive children later in life, identify genetic abnormalities in embryos, or hire surrogate mothers from halfway around the globe to carry an embryo to term. Ethical questions often get shoved to the side in the face of both rapid technological advancement and the emotions involved. Who wants to raise concerns about the production of millions of babies who bring great joy to millions of parents?

Thankfully, Ellen Painter Dollar has waded into the murky waters of reproductive technology in her new book No Easy Choice: A Story of Disability, Parenthood, and Faith in an Age of Advanced Reproduction (Westminster John Knox). Ellen begins with her own story as a woman with OI, osteogenesis imperfecta. She passed OI, a genetic disorder that causes frequent broken bones throughout childhood, to her first child, Leah, and wondered whether it was right for her to conceive other children who might inherit the same condition.

To read more, click here. (And don’t forget to stop by again this afternoon to hear more from Ellen.)

About Amy Julia Becker

Amy Julia Becker writes and speaks about family, faith, disability, and culture. A graduate of Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary, she is the author of Penelope Ayers: A Memoir, A Good and Perfect Gift (Bethany House), and Why I Am Both Spiritual and Religious (Patheos Press).

Comments

  1. Rachel Stone says:

    I loved your review of Ellen’s book @ the CT women’s blog, and am looking forward to more Q&A with her.


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