reproductive technologiesvarious technologies applied to pregnancy and childbirth. These fall into three main categories: managerial technology, which includes the medical management of pre-pregnancy, pregnancy and birth; contraceptive technology, which ranges from the non-interventionist diaphragm or condom to hormone suppressants, intrauterine devices, and sterilization; and conceptive technologies, which include artificial insemination, surrogacy, fertility drugs, embryo donation and storage, and in vitro fertilization. Feminists and medical sociologists have become increasingly interested in reproductive technologies on moral, medical and political grounds. At one extreme, Firestone (The Dialectic of Sex, 1971) has argued that the development of reproductive technologies are likely to liberate women from biological restrictions, whereas Mies and Shiva (Ecofeminism, 1993) condemn reproductive technology as sexist and racist exploitation. The latter argument views invasive technology as furthering a masculinist conception of science which shows little concern for ‘nature’ or for the choices of individuals, particularly women. Recent debates over ABORTION and the development of men's rights and foetal rights have, it is argued, further eroded the freedom of women to control their own bodies.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000