Campus News

Law School professor talks family configuration

Dr. Jennifer Merchant spoke at an event hosted by professor Alta Charo from the University of Wisconsin Law School Monday. 

Image By: Téalin Robinson

The French House welcomed a spokesperson to discuss the dynamic shifts in French Bioethics Laws and current francophone events regarding bioethics at an event hosted Monday by professor Alta Charo from the UW Law School. 

Dr. Jennifer Merchant is a professor of legal English and English applied to political and administrative sciences. Her research interests include comparative public policies, procreation, civil society and science and state relations. 

The lecture itself was conducted in French with a presentation slideshow in English to follow along with. Merchant discussed the accessibility of New Reproductive Technologies on a legal and social scale, the specific cases of same-sex couples, single men and women and surrogacy. She also raised questions about why access is limited to certain groups of people. 

“Since 2011, several major provisions have been made to French Bioethics Laws,” Merchant said.

One provision includes that close family members must be informed when genetic testing of a family member reveals high risk of developing a serious genetically transmitted illness. 

Regarding NRT, the fact that access is only limited to heterosexual couples diagnosed with infertility has struck much debate in the French-speaking world. Heterosexual couples not diagnosed with infertility, women over 43 years of age, lesbian couples and single men and women are denied access to NRT, which decreases the likelihood of these groups having biological children.  

The discussion is still circulating throughout the country, and Merchant hopes discussions around reproductive technologies will begin to move in a more progressive direction. 

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