By Mithu Lucraft, PR Manager
When I was still at primary school, our Religious Education teacher introduced to the class one morning the concept of the “baby bank”. A future where a parent would choose their child based on genetic analysis. The premise of that discussion is not too dissimilar to the central plot of the 1997 movie, ‘Gattaca’: both focus on cultural fears we hold about the futuristic uses of reproductive technology, and the ethical implications such advances hold.
This fear plays out in the mainstream media, as seen by the responses to technological breakthroughs like the world’s first cloned sheep. From cloning to designer babies, researchers like Sarah Franklin, who is interviewed for this month’s episode of podcast Social Science Bites, are exploring the implications of reproductive technologies from a sociological perspective.
Sarah Franklin is Professor of Sociology at Cambridge University. In the episode, she discusses with Dr. Nigel Warburton the role of a sociologist in understanding reproductive technology, exploring the types of qualitative methods used to understand participants engaged with treatments like IVF. She shares insights from her research on why parents today choose IVF as an option, and even back in the 1980’s where the failure rate for IVF was 90%.
IVF, stem cells, cloning, and human embryo research are just some of the areas sociologists like Sarah are researching. She discusses the public perceptions of these technologies, and the representation of such advances in the mainstream media.
In the episode, Sarah also discusses the likely future for reproductive technology, and the difficult decisions involved with these ethically, weighing up benefits against risks.
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