Assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedures that include artificial insemination, ovulation induction, and in vitro fertilisation continue to circulate the world of science through its advancements and procedural innovations. However, as it continues to grow and become widely known, it poses a lot of questions that people want to find answers to. Here, we will tackle some of the IVF ethical issues social media has been chattering about and discover the take of fertility experts and specialists about it.
IVF Ethical Issues: Multiple pregnancies
The success of an IVF cycle would depend on the number of embryos transferred to the uterus. Although it has been a standard to implant one healthy embryo into the womb at a time, there are instances where both the infertile couple and the doctor decide to implant more than one. Given the risk that this may also cause multiple gestation or pregnancies, they take that chance if it would mean a higher possibility of a successful pregnancy.
This risk of multiple pregnancies (having twins, triplets, quadruplets, etc.) poses health risks not only to the mother but also to the unborn child/children. Emotional, mental, and physical distress accompany this problem for the couple. The possibility of gestational complications and premature birth is also highly likely when having multiple pregnancies. Moreover, the financial burden of raising more than one child at a time may cause problems in the future.
Fertility experts and specialists should always inform the couples of the risks and complications each IVF procedure may entail. This vital information should be discussed and agreed upon even before starting the whole process. The couple should always make an educated decision and not be pressured by what the fertility specialists would recommend or suggest. It is still their prerogative on how they want their pregnancy journey to be like.
IVF Ethical Issues: Conflict of Interests
There has been news circulating that fertility experts are getting incentives when they produce a successful IVF cycle, even if it means doing more invasive procedures to achieve it. This issue implies that some fertility specialists recommend multiple embryo transfers per cycle since it would increase the chances of a successful pregnancy, despite its risks. This scenario, if true, should be condemned and frowned upon. Doctors have a solemn vow to do good and not to cause harm to their patients. Recommending IVF or any other ART procedure to their patients can already give them financial profit, since it is the scope of their job, much like a surgeon recommending a specific surgery to his patient. Risking the life of a patient just to increase the IVF success rate of a facility or a doctor’s practice should neither be practiced nor considered.
IVF Ethical Issues: Doctors playing God
Because of the continuous advancements of modern technology regarding the IVF procedure, scientific testing that somehow manipulates even the finest detail of the human gene becomes possible. One of these tests, the Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), is under scrutiny as it has been discovered that this test not only checks the presence of permanently disabling genes in an embryo, but it also allows the fertility experts to determine the sex of the embryo. Potential abuse or misuse of this procedure may include the request of parents to alter an unborn baby’s sex, hair colour, eye colour, and so on. The Australian Medical Association created an ethical guideline that strictly limits the use of PGD only for detection of fatally or permanently disabling genes.
There are many more issues surrounding the IVF procedure. It is still best that hopeful parents-in-the-making decide to follow their own choices and consider all the risks and benefits this gestational alternative offers.