Friday, December 12, 2008

Is it Ethical to Dispose of Unused Frozen Embryos Or Ticket a Laboring Woman on the Way to The Hospital?: Relevant Pregnancy and Birth

My list of pregnancy and birth stories is full to bursting, and ready to deliver!
  • The journey of infertility is filled with difficult decisions, not the least of which in the case of IVF treatment is what to do with frozen embryos once the couple is either done having children, or decides to cease the procedure. Complicating this is the fact that there aren't always satisfactory choices available to couples. Hopeful parents aren't always alerted sufficiently up front that they will potentially encounter these kinds of ethical, moral, and spiritual dilemmas. Nor are they throughout the process, as goals, situations and attitudes may change. With increased attention to this dimension perhaps couples would more carefully consider how many embryos they create at the outset.
  • For those couples that require an egg donor, another risk they don't anticipate is when a donor drops out, causing a lot of grief, stress, and lost money. In Illinois three egg donor agencies are coordinating to guarantee that a couple has access to another agency's resources when their donor back out. Ten percent of donors typically drop out, but these days the supplies are increasing. The Chicago Tribune notes that there has been "a 30 percent increase in young women expressing interest in becoming donors, prompted by the bad economy."
  • When it comes to surrogacy, a recent article published in the weekend New York Times magazine, recounting a wealthy woman's first person experience of going through the surrogacy process has drawn fire and particularly sharp criticism. The critic is not swayed by the emotional nature of the process, but rather questioning of the exploitative relationship between often well to do parents, and surrogates who live in decidedly more modest circumstances.
  • Medical science and the resiliency of the human body is often truly inspiring. A successful birth recently resulted from transplanted ovaries from one sister to another.
  • This may be a very promising development reported by Reuters: "Doctors may soon be able to diagnose inherited diseases such as cystic fibrosis, thalassaemia and sickle cell anemia in fetuses by simply testing a blood sample taken from the mother."
  • Turns out meddling mothers have a genetic reason for wanting their daughters to marry and doctor or a lawyer. A new report reveals that smart men have higher quality sperm. But don't panic! The lead researcher was quoted as saying, "This is scientifically interesting, but unimportant in terms of people's likelihood of conception or fertility." Tell that to your mother.
  • When you are pregnant, or trying to get pregnant, it suddenly seems like the rest of the world around you is pregnant. In one town which draws most of its population from military families, most of the rest of the women really are. The return of the division from a long deployment sparked a baby boom, and people struggle to get supplies and prenatal care. Additionally, many are choosing to start or add to their families to take advantage of extra leave before returning to overseas duty.
  • For all the wonder of the human body, pregnancy and childbirth still carry risks. A recent report found that mothers-to-be collectively are more daring and willing to take those risks than their doctors. But we have our limits as the reporter notes, especially when it comes to the lingering affects on our, shall we say, private considerations. Believe them when they say "kegels."
  • I can't explain why, but every since I read this story a while back I have been trying to recall a movie, in fact a musical ,that forcefully asserts in relation to women or children that they have "got to be taught." News flash, it's riskier and riskier to have children later in life. Yet, we persist, and health care professionals insist that women must be better educated about the risks. More so right now because in tough economic times, many couples are thinking very strongly about delaying starting or adding to their families. Try telling this to the seventy year old Indian woman who just gave birth, after fifty plus years of marriage.
  • And finally, we have all seen those dramatic, and usually funny, mad-capped dashes to the hospital by freaked out laboring couples. Many parents to be secretly fear just this scenario. Usually they are escorted, or otherwise hilariously assisted, by the law enforcement they encounter along the way, and they safely arrive at the hospital just in time. A couple wasn't quite so lucky, who despite being in obvious labor, received a citation from a diligent patrolmen who ticketed them for driving illegally in a prohibited lane during heavy rush hour traffic, AND made them wait while he finished ticketing another car.

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