Moral and ethical views on fertility treatments Essay.

Moral and ethical views on fertility treatments Essay.


Infertility in Britain is the most common reason for women to visit doctor’s surgeries between the ages of 20-45 apart from actual pregnancy itself. There are 1 in 6 people with fertility problems which make 3.5 million people who experience difficulties in conceiving a child in their lifetime.

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There are 70 clinics in the UK which have 34,855 patients and 12,596 children have been the result of their treatment in that year. The first ever baby born as a result of IVF was Louise Brown on 25th July 1978. Since then there have been significant advances in the freezing of embryos in liquid nitrogen which has resulted in an estimate of half a million children that were born from frozen embryos.



The treatments available are:

IVF which stands for (In vitro fertilisation)

Eggs are fertilised with sperm and embryos are implanted into the womb to grow

Natural cycle IVF

Collect and fertilise the one egg released naturally and implant this into the womb to grow

IUI (Intrauterine insemination)

Healthiest sperm is sorted and inserted into the womb artificially

GIFT (gamete intra-fallopian transfer)

Healthiest eggs and sperm mixed and placed in the fallopian tubes to grow

IVM (in vitro maturation)

Eggs are grown in the laboratory before fertilisation and implantation in the womb

ICSI (intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection)

Injecting one sperm cell into the centre of an egg and then implanting it into the womb to grow

Treatment for infertility is offered on the NHS but the waiting lists are very long and the process could take years if a donor is also necessary. If the NHS cycle of fertilisation fails then another attempt will cost �2,500 to �3,000 to pay privately and there is no certainty that it will work.Moral and ethical views on fertility treatments Essay.

Donors in Britain are not allowed to take payment for donating eggs or sperm as it is against the law. This is the moral view that the government take on paying for donation as they will not condone this as they do in other European Countries. This can mean that some couples find themselves having to go to Spain or other parts of the world to find willing donors and cheaper fertilisation clinics to do the procedures. This can lead to problems on race and colour for some couples as they try and match donors physical looks with their own.

Outside of the UK donors can be paid and the procedures are not always within UK guidelines as donors desperate for money can be left without proper medical attention or counselling and scars can be left on their reproductive and mental health as a result. One such complication is OHS (ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome) which if not monitored and treated properly can lead to death. In Japan IVF was banned for couples who were both infected with HIV and this led to scientists finding ways to remove the virus from the sperm.

Legal action has been taken in the past against IVF providers as there have been errors in the proper identification and transfer of the correct embryos. Other complications can be multiple births as there are usually 2-3 embryos implanted each cycle to try and ensure in at least one live birth. This can lead to birth of triplets and this can cause problems and even miscarriages. The law in the UK has now deemed two embryos to be sufficient.Moral and ethical views on fertility treatments Essay.

Last year the UK government also called for donors to be registered on the birth certificate in the future as it is a legal document which they feel should name the biological mother of father of a child that was conceived through donation of eggs or sperm. This change in law would serve to make finding donors even more difficult as all confidentiality would be lost. At the moment when a child reaches 18 its parents can let it know that it was the result of a donation and the child can then track the donor through a register. This alone put off many donors so campaigns very introduced to try and attract the public into donating again.

Not everyone is entitled to free treatment through the NHS. IVF treatments were primarily only offered to married heterosexual couples but homosexual couples have now challenged their right to be treated equally. Women who have reached the menopause who are past the standard age limit of NHS treatment and still wish to have child may do so if they pay for private treatment.

To undergo treatment or to be a donor you have to go through an assessment physically and mentally. Counselling is offered and in most cases compulsory to obtain an assessment of your suitability to be a donor. In Ireland this service is offered through the religious bodies of the Catholic Church or The Church of Ireland depending on your own region. You will then be told of the churches view on IVF and asked what you feel about this. The Catholic Church argues against artificial conception as they say that it separates the procreative purpose of the marriage act from its unitive purpose.

It also is in favour of adoption as an alternative for couples that can’t have their own biological children. Both churches argue that fertilised embryos can be discarded resulting in their death. This is not always the case though as unused embryos are precious and can be frozen and used at a later date by couples wishing to extend their family or given to another couple who are in need of them. There are also uses in stem cell research which can only be carried out at the written consent of the donor and recipients.

Not all of society agrees that the NHS should treat infertility as it is not a life threatening condition and the public money could be spent on curing illness instead. The government and religious bodies have a lot of influence over infertility treatments and adoption. Their morals and ethics are what shapes the structure and laws regarding fertility treatments in Britain.

Without them regulating these fertility treatments, it could be an emotional and physical gamble that would cost a lot more without public funding and donors too may then name their price for the risks involved and the lack of confidentiality. It is therefore in the best interests of the public that the government and religious leaders maintain morals and ethics in this treatment as there is such a need for safe and supported fertility treatments for one in six couples in the UK today.Moral and ethical views on fertility treatments Essay.