Health Sciences Building, 155 College Street, Room 106
  • May 11, 2016 from 4:10pm to 5:30pm

Speaker: Angel Petropanagos, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Novel Tech Ethics, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University

Experimental fertility preservation technologies, such as ovarian and testicular tissue cryopreservation, aim to preserve the future option of genetic reproduction by removing, freezing, and storing reproductive materials for future use. In the pediatric cancer context, decision making about the fertility preservation is challenging, in part, because parents must serve as proxy decision makers for their children. Despite guidelines stipulating that children be involved in medical decision making to the extent dictated by their capacities, children’s involvement in fertility preservation discussions and procedures is controversial. Some adults worry that children who are involved in decision making about fertility preservation are at risk of “sexualization” because of these discussions involve information about sexual health and reproduction. Using a feminist relational lens, I examine the nature and scope of this so-called risk of sexualization. I argue that the perceived risk of sexualization actually represents two separate ethical concerns, namely concerns about children’s (present) sexual agency and concerns about children’s (present and future) reproductive agency. I maintain that concerns about sexual agency should not be a barrier to children’s involvement in fertility preservation decision making, however, concerns about children’s reproductive agency in the context of fertility preservation warrant further examination.