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About Assisted Reproduction

Most assisted reproductive technologies (ART) are used to treat infertility. Others are used when there are no fertility problems. Embryo screening or pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, for example, is used in order to prevent the births of children with specific genetic characteristics.

In vitro fertilization (IVF) refers to assisted reproduction procedures in which sperm and eggs are joined outside a woman's body. Women undergoing IVF are given hormonal drugs to promote the development of multiple eggs, which are retrieved with a minor surgical procedure. The eggs are mixed with sperm; one or more of those that fertilize are then transferred to the woman's uterus.

IVF has been in use since 1978 and has resulted in almost four million births worldwide. A number of IVF-related techniques have been introduced since then. Some of these, such as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and commercial gestational surrogacy, raise significant ethical and policy concerns. In the United States alone, the assisted reproduction business is estimated to create over $3 billion in revenues a year.

Research on the risks associated with ART is notoriously inadequate. There have been few follow-up studies either on women who have used ARTs or their children. The United States is also known for having few laws governing assisted reproduction and little oversight of ART facilities.

UK Womb Transplants: 5 Ethical Issuesby Rachael RettnerLive ScienceOctober 5th, 2015A new UK clinical trial would expose both patient and developing fetus to autoimmune suppressants, use uteruses from deceased donors, and require that clinical patients have a "long-term partner", even though alternatives to this radical new technology exist.
Women Find a Fertility Test Isn't as Reliable as They'd Likeby Eliza BarclayNPROctober 5th, 2015Ovarian reserve tests are often ambiguous and can be misinterpreted; some fertility specialists worry that many women will be misled by their results.
Ontario to Cover In-Vitro Fertilization Treatments[Canada]by Rob FergusonThe StarOctober 1st, 2015Health Minister Eric Hoskins’ announcement Thursday makes Ontario the second province to cover costly programs for what is increasingly seen as an important medical issue.
Informed Consent for Egg Donors Won’t Exist Unless We Track Donors’ Healthby Judy E. SternOur Bodies, Our BlogOctober 1st, 2015Recent academic articles raise concerns that conflicts of interest in ART provision may result in donors having an incomplete understanding of the risks of eggs retrieval procedures.
Womb transplants given UK go-aheadBBCSeptember 30th, 2015In 2016, 10 women will be chosen for an NHS-approved clinical trial to receive surgery to transplant a donated uterus, monitor organ acceptance for 1 year, and then initiate up to two IVF pregnancies before removing the transplant.
Scientists Find Gene Editing with CRISPR Hard to Resist[quotes Marcy Darnovsky and Pete Shanks]by Cameron ScottHealthlineSeptember 29th, 2015CRISPR, a new technique for editing DNA, is so cheap and easy to use, we may be genetically engineering human embryos before we have time to decide if we should.
Why Some Parents Choose to Have a Deaf Babyby Rich WordsworthMotherboardSeptember 29th, 2015Genetic deafness is one of many conditions that can be screened for using PGD. That’s led to a surprising phenomenon: deaf parents using PGD not to avoid deafness, but to deliberately select for it.
The Messy, Complicated Nature of Assisted Reproductive Technology[cites CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by J. Wesley JuddPacific StandardSeptember 28th, 2015California court case is a representative example of a bigger issue with assisted reproductive technology in this country: It's largely unregulated and ambiguous.
Why the Majority of Sperm Donations in Canada Are from the U.S.[Canada]by Jim BrownCanadian Broadcasting CorporationSeptember 27th, 2015Only 5-10% of donated sperm in Canada is from domestic donors; the majority comes from US donors who – unlike their counterparts north of the border – are paid for their services.
Couples Left in Limbo as They Await Ontario IVF Funding Decision [Canada]by Elizabeth ChurchThe Globe and MailSeptember 25th, 2015In the spring of 2014, the Ontario government pledged to fund one cycle of IVF for citizens. Eighteen months later, couples struggling with infertility are still waiting to find out when and how that financial help will be delivered.
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