Another Gray Area in Healthcare:

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Another Gray Area in Healthcare:
Ethics and the Law how they effect their decisions
Toni M. Cunningham
HCA 322: Health Care Ethics and Medical Law
Professor West
January 2, 2009

Ethical and legal concepts, including specific federal regulations, required of healthcare organizations to ensure the delivery of high quality healthcare that protects patient safety

Imagine this, you are fertility doctor who in the past had helped a twenty-six year old, single woman to have six babies; and now at the age of thirty-three years old that same single woman whose children are now between the ages of two and seven walks into your office and says “I am ready for my next baby”, (her last six embryos are in your possession). What would you do? What would you say to her? The first time you saw her she was a young, unmarried, college student, gainfully employed with cash and now still unmarried, but this time she is unemployed, living with her six children and her parents, no stable source of income, planning to return to college to finish her Masters degree after she has the next baby; but still she has the cash. What would you do? Do you have any responsibility other than helping a patient have a baby? Is there a process to qualify for this procedure? Is there a questionnaire that must be filled out? Are there any psychological tests that must be passed? In this paper I am going to cover these issues and many more as we all try to understand why a doctor would help a single, unemployed woman to have fourteen children when we are in a recession or if it is his place to decide or is his job just to serve?

Fertility doctors around the world are stunned by the actions of one particular Doctor in California; the way he runs his clinic, how he handles the in vitro process, and his thought process as to who he will help or not are now all in question. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine states “when dealing with the single individual doctors still have the professional autonomy and an obligation to treat everyone equally”. They believe that doctors do have an ethical duty to treat people with equal respect regardless if

they are married or not, and added that single, gay or lesbian should receive the same respect married couples receive. The only cases that should be dismissed are those where there is serious doubt about whether a person would be a fit parent, in their research the society has found no reasons a doctor should deny services to an unmarried or homosexual persons except the reason stated above and that reason should be reviewed in all cases Fertility and SterilityVol. 86, No. 5, (2006).

According to the society the doctor in question followed to the letter their obligation to the patient on the basis of marital status, but what about the fact that the patient has no means to support the children? Does a doctor have the right to refuse this type of service? Let us see what the Ethical committee has to say about this. The Human Fertilisation[1] and Embryology Act in the United Kingdom stated that “Treatment services should not be provided unless account has been taken of the welfare of any child who may be born as a result of treatment.” In the United States the Ethics Committee agrees that the wellbeing of the children is one of concern and that it should be taken into consideration before the in vitro process begins, there is a but to their beliefs because of the constitutional rights of American citizens to bear and rear children an ethical paradox[2] could be created. The constitution does protect the reproductive rights of citizens and bans the act of discrimination on the basis of race, age or religion, but the federal and state anti-discrimination laws has left a gray area to assist physicians when they don’t want to take on a patient; as long as the private sector physician does not impermissibly discriminate under these laws, he or she may choose not to accept a fertility patient without...
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