Doctors as moral pioneers: Negotiated boundaries of assisted conception in Colombia: Negotiated boundaries of assisted conception in Colombia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

New biotechnologies such as assisted conception are socially embedded artefacts that raise context-specific ethical, moral and social anxieties. In contexts where the regulations of these profitable developments are limited or ambiguous, and competition between private facilities is high, individual doctors become morally and socially responsible for determining the parameters of administering such therapies. Ethnographic research at two private fertility centres in Colombia reveals that doctors do not determine boundaries based on monetary gain but rather personal morals, social norms and professional obligations. Medical professionals hold diverse perceptions of assisted conception, and often struggle to make decisions regarding who should access such therapies, who are ideal gamete donors and the fate of extra embryos. The complexity of these perceptions applied in a context of limited regulation and the competition of private medicine impacts the praxis of assisted conception. As doctors determine the boundaries of their practice they not only create variation between clinical practices, but also make moral decisions regarding who should be parents, how families should be formed and the significance of embryos. Thus, in navigating their everyday practices, doctors also shape the social world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1323-1337
Number of pages15
JournalSociology of Health and Illness
Volume41
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2019

Fingerprint

Colombia
Embryonic Structures
embryo
Biotechnology
Germ Cells
Artifacts
Fertility
regulation
Anxiety
Parents
Medicine
Tissue Donors
Social Norms
biotechnology
obligation
fertility
artifact
parents
Therapeutics
Research

Keywords

  • assisted reproductive technologies
  • bioethics
  • biotechnologies
  • Colombia
  • improvised ethics
  • moral pioneers
  • private health care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this

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abstract = "New biotechnologies such as assisted conception are socially embedded artefacts that raise context-specific ethical, moral and social anxieties. In contexts where the regulations of these profitable developments are limited or ambiguous, and competition between private facilities is high, individual doctors become morally and socially responsible for determining the parameters of administering such therapies. Ethnographic research at two private fertility centres in Colombia reveals that doctors do not determine boundaries based on monetary gain but rather personal morals, social norms and professional obligations. Medical professionals hold diverse perceptions of assisted conception, and often struggle to make decisions regarding who should access such therapies, who are ideal gamete donors and the fate of extra embryos. The complexity of these perceptions applied in a context of limited regulation and the competition of private medicine impacts the praxis of assisted conception. As doctors determine the boundaries of their practice they not only create variation between clinical practices, but also make moral decisions regarding who should be parents, how families should be formed and the significance of embryos. Thus, in navigating their everyday practices, doctors also shape the social world.",
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