The Ethics of the Societal Entrenchment-approach and the case of live uterus transplantation-IVF

Med Health Care Philos. 2019 Dec;22(4):557-571. doi: 10.1007/s11019-019-09891-w.


In 2014, the first child in the world was born after live uterus transplantation and IVF (UTx-IVF). Before and after this event, ethical aspects of UTx-IVF have been discussed in the medical and bioethical debate as well as, with varying intensity, in Swedish media and political fora. This article examines what comes to be identified as important ethical problems and solutions in the media debate of UTx-IVF in Sweden, showing specifically how problems, target groups, goals, benefits, risks and stakes are delineated and positioned. It also demonstrates how specific assumptions, norms and values are expressed and used to underpin specific positions within this debate, and how certain subjects, desires and risks become shrouded or simply omitted from it. This approach-which we label the Ethics of the Societal Entrenchment-approach, inspired by Koch and Stemerding (1994)-allows us to discuss how the identification of something as the problem helps to shape what gets to be described as a solution, and how specific solutions provide frameworks within which problems can be stated and emphasised. We also offer a critical discussion of whether some of these articulations and formations should be seen as ethically troubling, and if so, why.

Keywords: Discourse; Empirical ethics; Ethical problems; Societal entrenchment; Surrogacy; Uterus transplantation.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Fertilization in Vitro / ethics*
  • Fertilization in Vitro / methods
  • Humans
  • Inventions / ethics*
  • Parents
  • Parturition
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sweden
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement / ethics
  • Uterus / transplantation*