Test-Tube Babies Analysis

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Cynthia Katasi
Professor Stagnaro
09/27/2012
In Vitro fertilization: Analysis of Ruth Hubbard’s Article. “Test-Tube Babies: Solution or Problem?”

Ruth Hubbard’s “Test-Tube Babies: Solution or Problem?” first appeared in Technology Review in 1980. Hubbard addressed her audience with an initial objective tone, revealing the built up to her credibility on the issue of in vitro fertilization. Hubbard having specialized in biochemistry of vision and women’s health enforces the sense in the reader that she is to be trusted on this topic. Hubbard spoke at a time when in vitro fertilization was still a new developing technology as oppose to now. She spoke directly to society although at a certain point in her article; she focuses on a specific group of her readers. Its central purpose is to cause awareness of the unforeseen dangers and consequences of in vitro fertilization and to take a clear stand on the use and the further development of the technology. Hubbard appeals to her audience’s emotions with shifts in tone, division and classification, and comparison in the article. Hubbard begins her article in an objective tone, telling her audience “In Vitro fertilization of human eggs and the implantation of early embryos into women’s wombs are new biotechnologies that may enable some women to bear children who have hitherto been unable to do so. In that sense, it may solve their particular infertility problems.” Hubbard is able to develop her credibility by showing knowledge of what in vitro fertilization is and what it can accomplish for infertile people. She demands the audience’s authority because she shows that she knows the topic she’s discussing and is aware of different views. Hubbard then goes on to rebuttal the idea saying that “this technology poses unpredictable hazards” and urges the society- “It is therefore important that we, as a society, seriously consider the wisdom of implementing and developing it further.” This is a plea to society to think through the use and development of in vitro fertilization. It is after Hubbard goes into a brief history of in vitro fertilization that she clearly takes a stand on the issue, opposing the use and further development of the technology. She switches from urging the society to think through in vitro fertilization to personally saying that she’s against it. “But as a woman, a feminist, and a biologist, I am opposed to using it and developing it further.” Hubbard uses a shift in tone, from appealing to what in essence the society should do to what she would do because of who she is. This shift in tone is very effective in that now, the audience has a clear understanding of Hubbard’s viewpoint. Hubbard goes on to use Division and Classification to really focus the audience’s attention to consider “health risks”, “a woman’s right”, and “health priorities.” In Health Risks, Hubbard uses logical reasoning to remind society about having a bad track record when it comes to technological developments: “As a society, we do not have a very good track record in anticipating the problems that can arise from technological interventions in complicated biological systems. Our physical models are too simpleminded and have led to many unforeseen problems in the areas of pest control, waste disposal, and other aspects of what is usually referred to as the ecological crisis.” Hubbard reminds the audience about the consequences of previous technologies that society ignored which produced bad consequences. Hubbard expresses how they have been technologies developed before without knowledge that they could have problematic consequences when used: “A concrete example of a misjudgment with an unfortunate outcome that could not be predicated was the administration of the chemical thalidomide, a “harmless tranquilizer” touted as a godsend and prescribed to pregnant women, which resulted in the births of thousands of armless and legless babies. … But take the case of the hormone DES (diethyl...
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