Reproductive Ethics

Should fertility medicine be regulated more tightly?

By Marcia Clemmitt, May 15, 2009

Nadya Suleman, an unemployed, 33-year-old, single mother from Southern California, felt her six children weren't enough. Last January, after a fertility doctor implanted six embryos she had frozen earlier, Suleman gave birth to octuplets — and was quickly dubbed “Octomom.” Many fertility experts were shocked that a doctor would depart so far from medical guidelines — which recommend implantation of only one, or at most two, embryos for a woman of Suleman's relatively young age. Although multiple births often do result from in vitro fertilization (IVF) and other assisted-reproduction technologies, the number of multiples has dropped over the past few years, they point out. Other analysts note, however, that government statistics show a large percentage of clinics frequently ignore the guidelines on embryo implantation. In response, lawmakers in several states have introduced proposals to increase regulation of fertility clinics.

The Issues:

  • Should fertility medicine be regulated more vigorously?
  • Should parents be allowed to choose their babies' characteristics, such as gender?
  • Should doctors be able to refuse assisted reproductive technologies (ART) services to gay, older or single people?

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