The Dark Side of Infertility Treatments

Topics: Pregnancy, Assisted reproductive technology, Infertility Pages: 9 (3182 words) Published: February 5, 2012
Pregnancy is something that any woman in “good” reproductive health can theoretically experience. Many people, however, are faced with infertility, or the inability to become pregnant. Infertility is a condition that affects approximately 15% of couples worldwide, with nearly seven million infertile couples in the United States alone. With new assisted reproductive technologies many of these couples are now able to give birth to biological children. Infertility treatments are often seen as a Godsend for couples who thought they would never be able to become parents. However, both society and the medical community at large are overlooking the ethical and medical problems associated with using infertility treatments. Society sees these treatments as a “cure-all” for all women, and the medical community fails to examine cases on an individual basis or consider many of the risks associated with alternative reproduction treatments. Issues such as parental screening, costs of the treatments, and the number of embryos implanted need to be much more widely considered before the use of infertility treatments is granted to couples. It has become a common belief in society that as a woman, one should want to have children and be fit to be a mother. Society has taken the idea of womanhood and equated it with motherhood, assuming that all women are fit to be mothers solely because they are women. As Kane-Low and Schuiling state, “girls and boys are taught their society’s expectations of appropriate behavior; they grow up to enact their society’s gendered social roles” (Kane-Low & Schuiling, 10). Doctors and healthcare providers have fallen victim to this social construction of gender as well, granting infertility treatments to women based on the ideal that because they are women, they must be fit to be mothers. The problem is that this may not be the case. Many parents are not able to care for children, whether that child is conceived naturally or through assisted reproductive technology treatments. Children are often taken away from their parents, and subjected to living a life of foster care and oftentimes poverty, due to their biological parents inability to provide appropriate care for the child. In the case of couples seeking infertility treatments, parental incompetence could easily be avoided with the introduction of parental screening. Similar to the way adoption is handled, parents who desire infertility treatments should undergo a screening process. When couples choose to adopt they must undergo a home study, which consists of several interviews, background checks, and home visits (Moses 2011). This process is designed with the sole purpose of preventing unfit parents from adopting, in order to protect children’s lives. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine published guidelines in 2004 saying fertility clinics could "withhold services from prospective patients on the basis of well-substantiated judgments that those patients will be unable to provide or have others provide adequate child rearing for offspring" (O’Reilly, 1). However, these are just guidelines, not any form of regulation, and offer no incentives for doctors to follow them. In addition to this, the guidelines do not call for routine screening or home studies, meaning that cases of unfit parents receiving infertility treatment in the United States still occur. Take for example, the case of a two–month-old child, conceived from use of infertility treatments, who was brought to a pediatrician’s office because she often stopped breathing during feedings. After careful examination, it was shown that the child was fed while on her back, which causes choking in infants. The doctor also discovered several injuries such as fractures and hemorrhages. After further investigation it was revealed that both parents suffered from some form of mental disabilities, and the father of the child had been harming the baby (Cobb, 36). It is very clear...
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