Emerging legal and ethical issues in reproductive technologies

Authored by: Vardit Ravitsky , Raphëlle Dupras-Leduc

Routledge Handbook of Medical Law and Ethics

Print publication date:  August  2014
Online publication date:  September  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415628181
eBook ISBN: 9780203796184
Adobe ISBN: 9781134448654


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Reproductive technology is one of the greatest medical success stories of our time. Since the advent of in vitro fertilization (IVF) in 1978, an estimated 5 million babies have been born worldwide as an outcome of this revolutionary technology (Chambers et al. 2014), alleviating the burden of infertility and bringing joy to millions of parents and families. The broad social acceptability of reproductive technology has been marked by the 2010 Noble prize in medicine being awarded to Dr Robert Edwards (Nobel prize 2010), developer of IVF and the metaphorical ‘father’ of Louise Brown, the world’s first IVF baby. IVF and some of its associated techniques such as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), have now become commonplace. In the United States, over 1 per cent of all births are of babies conceived through reproductive technology (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention et al. 2010). This number is even higher in most European countries, where it is estimated that as many as 6 per cent of births are achieved using assisted reproductive technologies (Nyboe Andersen and Erb 2006). In addition, prenatal screening and testing have now become an integral part of prenatal care in all developed countries (Rapp 2000).

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