IVF, what’s wrong with it anyway?

For the most part, it seems to me that IVF is a relatively harmless procedure that has made lots of couples happy parents.  The fears that “test tube” babies would be social rejects turned out to be all hype — That being said, I’m going to write about why it may not be a good idea..

  • It’s expensive and not all that reliable — the precise figure isn’t easily available and it seems to vary a lot — plus, most insurance companies don’t cover the whole cost.  Success figures aren’t easily available either, but clinics seem to brag if it’s over 20%, so they can’t be all that good.
  • Harvesting the eggs can be painful.  The procedure requires a large dose of hormones so that there are multiple eggs to harvest.  This is uncomfortable and carries it’s own health risks.  Further, the procedure to harvest them is relatively invasive.
  • Donors and more likely surrogates can complicate family matters.  It’s possible for egg/sperm donors to come back into family life much later and at bad times — but more likely a surrogate can change her mind and not permit the biological parents to “adopt” the child… she carried it and she has rights.
  • Current procedures look for the strongest embryos.  If one or both parents carry genetic conditions, the embryos may be tested for those conditions.  As in the book, My Sister’s Keeper, embryos may be implanted because they are a close genetic match for another family member.  All of this is one step from choosing or designing embryos to be smarter, taller, faster, more attractive or whatever…  The implications of these actions are serious and significant — and the topic of countless books and movies.  We ought to be careful with anything that leads us that way.
  • It’s possible that an embryo is a person.  If that’s your belief, you ought not participate in IVF, or you should commit to implanting all the embryos created for your procedure.  This could be quite a large number and very expensive and a challenge to the health and bank account of the parents.
  • Multiple births are increasing.  Generally the procedure is to implant multiple embryos with the idea that only a couple of them will succeed.  Those embryos are born as fraternal twins.  Twins, triplets and more are often born premature and thus are susceptible to health dangers as well as being much more expensive due to time in NICU.
  • “Selective” abortion is still abortion.  One IVF procedure includes implanting several embryos and then doing a selective abortion which would leave only the most viable embryos to become children.  If abortion is wrong, so is selective abortion during IVF.
  • There are plenty of children to adopt — not babies necessarily, but kids loose parents all the time for a variety of reasons.  Adoptive parents argue that genetic relationships aren’t nearly as vital as raising a child and increasing IVF means that many older children are left in foster care when they could be adopted by fantastic parents.

1 Comment

Filed under Applied Ethics

One response to “IVF, what’s wrong with it anyway?

  1. lilly

    “IVF is a relatively harmless procedure” don’t make me laugh.

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