Ethical Obligation for Restricting the Number of Embryos Transferred to Women: Combating the Multiple-Birth Epidemic From in Vitro Fertilization
Van Voorhis, Bradley J
Ryan, Ginny L
Seminars in reproductive medicine 2010 Jul; 28(4): 287-94
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is an increasingly effective and popular means of achieving pregnancy for infertile women, but contributes to a growing incidence of risky twin pregnancies. Despite studies demonstrating cost-effective means to achieve IVF pregnancy while strictly limiting the number of embryos transferred, multiple-embryo transfer remains the most common practice in the United States, and twin pregnancies continue to increase. IVF providers resist restricting these practices, arguing that this is counter to principles of procreative liberty, patient and professional autonomy, and free-market economics. We counter that physicians have a professional fiduciary responsibility to weigh issues of nonmaleficence to patients and just use of health care resources with patient desires. With oversight from professional organizations, providers should follow strict but medically appropriate restrictions on embryo transfer practices and work toward safer means of optimizing IVF outcomes than multiple-embryo transfer.
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