Assisted Reproduction Technology is a new found system to aid infertile couples to get children. It is also used in transgender couples and genetic concerns in the family. The examples of assisted reproduction technology include invitro-fertilization embryo transfer, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, gamete intrafalllopian transfer, zygote intrafallopian transfer and intrauterine insemination. It is a practice that has caused wide controversy from the ethical point of view. There are many ethical issues surrounding artificial reproduction.
Many religious organizations condemn the practice as it goes against the religious beliefs. Most religions believe that God is the sole creator of life and determiner of fertility of an individual. Therefore, the practice is viewed as one that is trying to supersede the power and belief in God. The element of surrogate parenting in assisted reproduction is also a highly thorny issue in the society. The practice of sperm egg donation is also very emotive. The main protagonist in this debate is the religious organizations and their beliefs and practices (Gillian, 2003).
Surrogate parenting is an arrangement in which an infertile married couple contracts a fertile woman to undergo gestation on their behalf and surrender the child after birth. This is described as a non-nuclear family arrangement in that the family allows a third party into their family relationship to play the role of a birth mother. Surrogate parenting raises various ethical questions. There are various forms of surrogate parenting. These include traditional and gestational. In traditional surrogacy, the mother shares genetic information as the child since she acts as a sperm recipient.
The gestational surrogacy involves insemination with fertile ovum of the infertile couple. Therefore, she does not share genetic information as the child. The ethical dilemma that exists in surrogate parenting is whereby commercial surrogacy is viewed as exploitative to poor single women. The woman is viewed as a mere incubator while her money is siphoned by the surrogate agencies. The child is traumatized on discovering that the mother raising him/her is not her biological mother due to different genetic information.
This leads to acrimony in the family. Some organizations claim that surrogacy leads to commoditization of babies as mere goods. This shows a lack of respect to the human being as a whole (Gillian, 2003). Surrogate parenting causes controversy in the traditional definition of a family unit. A family is viewed as made of mother, father and children who are genetically related. Surrogacy allows a third party into the traditional nuclear family. This distorts the meaning completely. This is especially so in traditional form of surrogate parenting.
In this form, the surrogate mother is just not the gestational bearer of the child, but she also shares genetic information with the child. The family will be in a dilemma whether to inform the child of his gestation and parenting lest he/she finds out. Such information is likely to break the family unit (Markens, 2007). Commercial surrogate parenting has been viewed as exploitative. Young single and poor girls are chosen to act as surrogate mothers. The agency that contracts them does not care about their well-being but is interested in profiteering from their services.
These girls are paid 10000-150000 dollars for their services. Court cases have been filed where these mothers reject the money to take custody of the children. This is the exploitative nature of the practice (Markens, 2007). Doctors place multiple eggs into the womb of a woman in artificial reproduction. The medical significance of this practice is to reduce the proportion and margin of error. Statistics shows that most of the eggs implanted into a woman do not get implanted and are aborted by the mother. As such, the practice of inserting multiple eggs is to increase the likelihood of implantation or fertilization of the eggs.
The other concern is the cost of artificial reproduction technology. The technology costs highly to the partners and the insurance companies. Multiple eggs are inserted by the healthcare professionals as a means of cost saving and cost reduction in fertility treatment. This addresses the cost that would be incurred if one egg failed. Multiple implantations bring with it the dilemma of multiple pregnancy complications and multiple birth costs. The dilemma with the practice is that a healthcare professional is legally mandated to abort some of the implanted fetuses upon informed consent from the parents.
This practice is called multi fetal pregnancy reduction or selective abortion. The medical rationale behind embryo reduction is the fact that there are many risks associated with carrying multiple pregnancies to the mother. There is the risk of in-uteri death of the fetus, premature delivery and retardation. Any pregnancy with more than three fetuses is an iatrogenic complication of artificial reproduction (Simo, 2002). Selective abortion is moral as it is done in the interest of the mother and the family. Informed consent has to be sought from the partner, and they must reserve the right to select the embryos that will be reduced.
However, in a perfectly health mother, selective abortion is not advisable rather the doctor should practice watchful waiting on the patient. Selective abortion is done to reduce child impairment if he/she is born prematurely. The practice is a morally justified option for the parent. This is because the quality of life of the child born and the economical and psychological burden on the parents to support a mentally retarded child. Despite religious, social and cultural perceptions on selective abortion, it is a perfectly moral practice done in the interest of the family.
The sanctity of life must indeed be observed and respected so much as the quality of the baby’s life. The grounds that lay the foundation for the decision to selectively abort an embryo are based on the moral and financial ability of the family to take care of complication of multiple pregnancies: especially premature babies (Simo, 2002). The society is obliged to support families that have multiple babies born prematurely, with defects or mental retardation. These parents are under immense pressure to provide for and raise these children.
The society is obliged to support these families in whatever means possible. The immediate extensive family plays a huge role in supporting these parents morally and financially. Premature children need to be loved by everyone in the family and external community. Financial assistance is vital to cater for constant hospitalization of these children. Children with mental retardation and prematurity need constant visitations for medical checkup to ensure that they grow and mature like other children. The community is obliged to offer financial support to these families.
Through various community forums and organizations, the locals can take care of these children and accord them equal rights enjoyed as other healthy children. The community may also set up special schools with special teachers to guide these children as they develop. The local government and the federal government are also obliged to support families with disabilities. The government can enact of laws and policies that offer incentives to these parents and those that govern the development of these children. The local government is also mandated to establish institutions
that will take care of these children as they grow as they belong to children with special need (Gillian, 2003). Abortion is a highly controversial moral subject worldwide. There are proponents of abortion who claim the practice is done to safeguard the health of the mother and the dignity of girls who have been sexually assaulted. Whereas, there are the opponents who argue that the vice is against the universal right to life and respect of life. There are various ethical issues with abortion. Ethical issues arise due to the moral dilemma.
The reasons for procuring an abortion include not being able to raise the child at the moment or irresponsible parents. Such scenarios would warrant an abortion to avoid future suffering of the child. Some mothers claim that childbearing will interfere with their careers, or they have reached their limit of child bearing. The moral dilemma is the sanctity of life. Religious backgrounds claim that life begins after fertilization and terminating it at any stage is paramount to murder. With such personification, the fetus is entitled to the right of life as any other human being (Hinman, 2013).
As such, they argue against abortion. However, medically, health professionals are obliged to abort so as to preserve the life of a mother if her pregnancy is complicated. Therefore, abortion is a highly controversial moral issue between the ‘pro-life’ and the ‘prochoice’ ? References Committee on Organ Procurement and Transplantation Policy, Institute of Medicine. (2001). Organ Procurement and Transplantation: Assessing Current Policies and the Potential Impact of the DHHS Final Rule. New York: National Academies Press. Gillian, T. (2003). Mixed blessings: ethical issues in assisted conception.
Journal of Reproductive and Social Medicine, 34-35. Hinman, L. (2013). Abortion: an oveerview of the ethical issues. University of San Diego. Landlau, R. , Blythe, & Eric. (2004). Third Party Assisted Conception across Cultures: Social, Legal, and Ethical Perspectives. London: Jessica Kingsley Publications. Markens, S. (2007). Surrogate Motherhood and the Politics of Reproduction. Berkley: University of Carlifornia Press. Simo, V. (2002). Parental Responsibility and the Morality of Selective Abortion. Journal of Reproductive Health, 463-484.