One of the plots of the Canadian science fiction thriller Orphan Black involves a scheme to create dozens of siblings by harvesting the eggs of one woman, fertilizing them with the sperm of a single man, and implanting them for gestation in dozens of apparently willing surrogates. The casualness of the procedure speaks to how comfortable we have all become with reproduction by technology. Yet there are still aspects of this process that remain outside the normative boundaries of most of our worldviews. This article considers recent advances in assisted reproductive technology (ART) that can result in a viable, fertilized embryo even when the mother is herself either permanently unconscious from a severe injury or has actually lost all brain function and therefore meets the legal criteria for brain death. It reviews these advances and applies them to four scenarios, or vignettes, that represent different concerns about the prospective mother’s intent to reproduce before losing her ability to give consent.
Jennifer Bard & Lindsay Penrose, Responding to Requests for Assisted Reproductive Technology Intervention Involving Women Who Cannot Give Consent, 25 Health Matrix 227 (2015)