The Social Implications of In Vitro Pregnancy

October 16th, 2012
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The latest statistics released on birth and pregnancy in the United States show that out of all the couples who fall in the range of an appropriate child-producing age, almost 9% of them are infertile.  The promise and possibilities that an in vitro pregnancy can offer a couple or an individual who is incapable of having children via coital means can spark joy and life where there was once disappointment and shame.  However, this scientific innovation does not come without its many proponents and critics.  It is quite common for different political parties, organizations and groups to have a firm stance on topics such as these, understanding all of the facets of an IVF conception and process can lead you to making the soundest choice and decision on where this procedure sits with you.

Everywhere you look, whether it is in media or advertisements there is a concurrent theme of parenthood and traditional conception.  Even with this being prevalent, many couples who are faced with the problem of infertility are still more than willing to spend anywhere from $10,000 on an embryo to more than $50,000 on a private egg donor.  While certain members of society might suggest an adoption service, this willingness to spend thousands of dollars to bear a child through IVF methods shows that there is an intrinsic human need that exist to produce a child of one’s own.

An individual’s ethical perception on IVF often comes down to their own religious and moral foundations and what is considered natural and unnatural.  In its simplest explanation, IVF involves the use of either frozen embryos or oocytes from a private egg donor that are then fertilized outside the woman’s body.  The embryos (typically two to three but sometimes more) are then placed inside the woman’s body. From there, the woman is placed on some medications in order to encourage the occurrence of a pregnancy.

The source of contention often comes down to what is done with those other eggs and embryos that did not make it to the intended parent.  These embryos can then be discarded, frozen, or used for scientific research.  Critics of the process sight this stage as going against nature and natural selection.  Giving a scientist or a lab professional the ability to keep or end life is powerful thing.

The issue is now further compounded with how someone views this embryo.  Is it life yet?  Is it a human being with all of the rights and privileges associated with anyone else born in the United States?  Can this discarding of embryos be seen as murder?  These are the questions that one needs to ask themselves when making an informed decision on whether or not this process is morally right, or morally wrong.

The following questions are a good place to start forming an opinion on the matter if you haven’t already done so.

When do you feel human life begins?

Proponents of science and ethics are at a constant battle of opinion on this matter.  Does life begin at the time of conception? At the time of birth?

If a couple is infertile, should we view this as natural selection at work?
Couples faced with infertility are the largest users of IVF services.  If an individual is incapable of producing offspring in the traditional, biological way, should this be viewed as nature running its course?

Should a couple be able to potentially “choose” the sex of their child?
Recent innovations in IVF technology have led to what is being called “ preimplantation genetic diagnosis”, or more simply, the ability to select the gender of the child before pregnancy.  Is this choice going too far?

The argument for or against IVF procedures goes way beyond the topics listed and discussed here.  In vitro procedures can be a wonderful tool for couples struggling with infertility or pregnancy issues.  In the same regard it could also an area of science that allows for men and women to play God.

Where do you sit on the issue? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Author: Cynthia Dorsch loves writing about health and wellness. In her free time she can often be found researching and catching up on trending techniques and new innovations in the medical field. She currently writes and blogs for My Egg Bank.

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2 Responses to “The Social Implications of In Vitro Pregnancy”

  1. ebsoph714 Says:

    Preimplantation genetic diagnosis is NOT used just so parents can choose the sex of their child. It is a diagnosis used to screen for genetic or chromosomal disorders when one or more parents are known to have genetic problems such as gene translocation. Please do not add to the misconception that IVF parents are making designer babies. For most of us, this is the end of the road. We’d be happy with any healthy baby.

  2. Karolina Maria Says:

    I’m glad you bring up these considerations, because unfortunately, many reproductive endocrinologists make recommendations not based on the same value system of the patients. I’ve met people who only after the fact realized they had options or could’ve made choices more in line with their personal ethics or religious convictions, but didn’t because their REs didn’t necessarily outline everything for them. It’s so important to be your own advocate! We are dealing with human life. It’s too important to ignore :)

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