Ethical Issues Surrounding Infertility Treatment Options
“Infertility has emerged as one of the fastest growing health challenges that are of paramount concerns” (Yuit Wah Wong, 2012). There are various causes for infertility in women some of which include medical disorders with the uterine tubes, the uterus and with the ovaries. Women are experiencing more amenorrhea and sexually transmitted diseases that are being spread faster due to the ignorance of using contraceptives with an unfamiliar person. Also, women are waiting to start a family after they have built a stable career, thus decreasing the chances of conception. (Roupa Z., Polinkadrioti M., Sotiropoulou P., Faros E., Koulouri A., Wazniak G. & Gourni M., 2009).
But there is hope for women battling with infertility with the use of infertility treatments such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in-vitro fertilization (IVF) (Yuit Wah Wong, 2012) however, it should be the individual’s right to know and understand all the ethical issues that arise with choosing the route of reproductive technologies. In this paper I will be focusing on the ethical issues that clients and clinics face when utilizing fertility clinics reproductive technologies.
Why People Consider Accessing Fertility Clinics
Imagine growing up as a healthy adult who has shaped a life with a good education and a solid career. You are now ready to settle down and create the family you always dreamed of having. You go through countless attempts at conceiving, followed by numerous negative pregnancy tests. Your self-worth begins to decline as creating another human is supposed to be the easiest thing you can do and your body just will not make the connection.
Many women suffer in silence with the pain of infertility and often have to deal with the psychological conflicts on their self-esteem and self-worth due to the difficulty in doing what is most instinctual as humans. However, with the ever-advancing reproductive technology, women are able to access these clinics to choose their methods of treatment. I will discuss IUI and IVF and the ethics surrounding multiple births and genetic coding. What is Assisted Reproductive Technology?
Assisted reproductive technology (ART) is IUI. This is where healthy sperm are taken from the male and directly inserted into the female uterus after an ovum has been released through her ovaries otherwise known as, ovulation, in hopes of a healthy conception and a normal pregnancy (Lee C.K., 2011). IVF is a procedure where several eggs are taken from the female and several sperm are taken from the male. They are mixed in a Petri dish in hopes of fertilization. Two or three fertilized eggs are inserted into the female’s uterus in hopes of a normal pregnancy. Both of these procedures are completed in a lab at an infertility clinic of the couple’s choice (Lee C.K, 2011).
Ethical Decision Making
Several ethical issues can arise with the staff at fertility clinics. The two I will discuss are choosing which couple can receive treatment and what the risks of multi-fetal pregnancies imply. For example, same-sex couples may have a more difficult time accessing the fertility clinics due to the method of decision-making some clinics have chosen. According to Firth (2009), “The aim was to reach a consensus (or joint decision) over what to do, rather than try and reach a consensus over what was ethically right. The majority of physicians in the clinic whose religious morals were greatly affected by their ethical decision-making outnumbered the physician who wanted to provide treatment to this couple. Another example of this was a clinic debated on giving treatment to a couple in which the husband was infertile.
Instead of choosing a sperm donor, this couple wanted to use the husband’s father’s sperm to stay within the desired gene pool and still make their own baby from both sides of the family, (Firth, L., 2009). Also, many women desire to have a baby but may not have the spouse to conceive with. This leaves these women to turn to fertility clinics. Raising a child as a single parent in today’s economy can be very difficult, thus becoming an ethical issue with the fertility clinics physicians because some clinics may not provide treatment to a single parent. (Firth, L., 2009). With these previous examples I would like to add that clients should also be educated on their rights to their health care. Canadians have a right within their health care, a right to health care and a right to timely health care.
Multi-fetal Pregnancies as an Ethical Issue “Multi-fetal pregnancies have been steadily increasing over the past three decades because of the increased use of ART” (Little, C., 2010). It has been noted that couples undergoing infertility treatments have the desire for multiple births, but may not be aware of the risks the couple will run to fulfill the desire. “For twins, one in eight are born very preterm (