Legal and Ethical Issues on ART

First, let us state what the initials ART stands for. ART stands for Assisted Reproductive Technology and it is currently a commonly used technology that has successfully treated millions of infertile couples all over the world. Infertility has long been an area of medicine in which physicians cannot help their patients. This all changed when the announcement of the birth of Louis Brown in 1978 through in vitro fertilization (IVF) was made. Louis Brown was the first baby in the world to be conceived in the laboratory. In several short decades after the birth of the world’s first test-tube baby, IVF has increased in availability and use in almost every country around the globe. However, this sudden outburst of the new technology has also introduced countless new social ethical and legal challenges. A few of the ethical and legal issues will be discussed.

First and foremost is the ethical issue of defining the initiation of life ethically. Amid all the talk about ever-increasing availability of in vitro fertilization, one issue never mentioned is; what happens to all those extra embryos?” Will they be stored for another time if needed or will they be disposed of? An embryo already has a life of its own, the heart is already beating. Ethically speaking, is it okay to throw away or dispose of something that already has life or is alive? The ethical and ethical problems encompassing a way to subsume these surplus embryos are the supply of abundant dialogue.

The second issue is the financial aspect of IVF treatment. It is said that one of the most obvious ethical challenges faced within a society concerning ART, is the unfair distribution of access to this healthcare. The total ART treatment costs are really expensive. Because of the significant economic barriers to IVF existing in many countries, it results in the preferential availability of this technology to couples who can afford it only.

Besides, another ethical and legal issue surrounding the use of donated gametes is to what extent the obscurity of the donor should be preserved? The issue of anonymity and how it relates to gamete and embryo donation is emotionally charged. Human beings need to know their genetic roots and it is universally important because it is the core of self-identity. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has established four levels of gamete donor information sharing depending on what the donor and recipient parties want. However, there is an increasing consideration of the rights of the offspring as it relates to the donor gametes and anonymity. Advocates for permitting either reproductive cell donors or their offspring to interrupt obscurity cite the medical blessings of sharing medical info with their genetic offspring, within the case of donor or offspring learning about their genetic history directly. Recent court rulings suggest that these rights will become more visible in the future. The legal and ethical issues surrounding anonymity and gamete donation will be the centrally debated issues within the field of ART soon.

Lastly but not the least is the surrogacy and gestational carriers. As some might have known, surrogacy is when a woman agrees to carry a pregnancy using her oocytes but the sperm of another couple and relinquish the child to the couple upon delivery, while gestational carrier, by contrast, involves a couple who undergo IVF with their genetic gametes and the places the resultant embryo in another woman’s uterus, the gestational carrier, who carry the pregnancy will then give up the child to this couple upon delivery. Some people are concerned that the practice of surrogates and gestational carriers is a form of “child selling” or the “sell of parental rights”. Additionally, the rights of the surrogate or gestational carrier to not willingly hand over the infant following delivery are not well described thus can cause conflict within the birth mother and the parent couple.

Recommendation & Conclusion

Based upon reading the journals and understanding how the prenatal screening and testing works, the process and most importantly, the risks. It is highly recommended that pregnant mothers or women planning to get pregnant should attend pre-test counseling to help them understand more about prenatal testing and be aware of the risks. Also, expectant mothers should start their check-ups as early as possible to establish exactly the health of their baby and if there are some complications, it can be addressed as early as possible. Pregnant women must always look after themselves and eat healthy foods so that their babies can be healthy to avoid risking the baby’s health.

As for ART, it is a field that is dynamic and will always be changing. Update of technologies will endlessly change the capabilities of ART and due to its rapidly evolving nature, legislation is unable to keep pace and address all of the ethical and legal issues that are constantly emerging. Therefore, it is recommended that Physicians must monitor these issues and ensure that ART technologies are offered and delivered in a proper way that balances patient care with social and moral responsibility. Additionally, society must come together as one and find ways on how to fund ART responsibly and fairly to increase access to care.

In conclusion, prenatal screening or testing is beneficial to all expectant mothers because it helps them to know the health state of their baby. If there is a certain abnormality within the fetus, it can be addressed as early as possible to help both the mother and the child.