There are several ethical issues associated with infertility and its treatment.
- High-cost treatments are out of financial reach for some couples.
- Debate over whether health insurance companies should be forced to cover infertility treatment.
- Allocation of medical resources that could be used elsewhere
- The legal status of embryos fertilized in vitro and not transferred in vivo.
- Anti-abortion opposition to the destruction of embryos not transferred in vivo.
- IVF and other fertility treatments have resulted in an increase in multiple births, provoking ethical analysis because of the link between multiple pregnancies, premature birth, and a host of health problems.
- Religious leaders' opinions on fertility treatments.
- Infertility caused by DNA defects on the Y chromosome is passed on from father to son. If natural selection is the primary error correction mechanism that prevents random mutations on the Y chromosome, then fertility treatments for men with abnormal sperm (in particular ICSI) only defer the underlying problem to the next male generation.
Many countries have special frameworks for dealing with the ethical and social issues around fertility treatment.
- One of the best known is the HFEA - The UK's regulator for fertility treatment and embryo research. This was set up on 1 August 1991 following a detailed commission of enquiry led by Mary Warnock in the 1980s
- A similar model to the HFEA has been adopted by the rest of the countries in the European Union. Each country has its own body or bodies responsible for the inspection and lisencing of fertility treatment under the EU Tissues and Cells directive
- Regulatory bodies are also found in Canada and in the state of Victoria in Australia
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Last Updated: Feb 1, 2011