Sign up for Insight Alerts highlighting editor-chosen studies with the greatest impact on clinical care.
- Amnon Goldworth, PhD*
- *Senior Medical Ethicist-in-Residence, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA.
TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION
Is there a difference between being human and being a person?
Are there other ethical problems with the use of in vitro fertilization beyond those identified in this article?
Should an infertile couple be allowed to take the risk of harming their offspring if it is not known whether a serious harm is involved or it is known that a serious harm is involved?
Are there ways of possibly wronging the community by the use of in vitro fertilization other than financially?
Does the physician have an ethical if not a legal obligation to provide in vitro fertilization to infertile couples?
After the Flood, “God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them,‘ Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth.’” (Genesis 9:1) Humankind, notwithstanding war, famine, and disease, has heeded this call with natural exuberance and global consequences that challenge the planet’s resources today.
Over the many centuries since God’s injunction, children have been born by natural means. However, among the estimated 40 million couples of childbearing age who live in the United States, 8.5% are involuntarily infertile. Obviously, many more infertile couples around the world can be added to this more than 3 million in the United States. For these couples, in vitro fertilization (IVF) offers new promise.
This promise is not without its critics. Social pressure, especially on women, is at the heart of much of the drive for biologic parenthood. Nevertheless, the fact that many infertile couples are willing to spend thousands of dollars and risk the physical and mental demands of IVF rather than adopt a child suggests a strong emotional need for biologic offspring that is not influenced by social pressures.
The IVF Procedure
Unlike in vivo fertilization, IVF requires the intervention of a medical team. This intervention begins by taking a history of the couple. …