IVF International

By Holmes, Helen Bequaert | The Hastings Center Report, September-October 1991 | Go to article overview

IVF International


Holmes, Helen Bequaert, The Hastings Center Report


An ethics session has always been scheduled at the world congresses on in vitro fertilization, and the Seventh Congress (30 June - 3 July, Paris) was no exception. Such sessions give a moral imprimatur to the practice of assisted reproduction-ethics on the program means that laboratory begetting of babies must be morally right-but they have often been scheduled early or late in the agenda, or in conflict with field trips or social events, so the tiny audience seems lost in a huge auditorium. That the format of the ethics session has differed seven times attests to the ingenuity of local congress organizers.

The creativity of the Paris organizers may have outshone aH past efforts. Four hours before the opening ceremony's ballets, three topics were debated, each by a pair of speakers. The con speaker went first, then an IVF practitioner pro speaker. The strict time schedule for initial presentations and responses to audience questions submitted on half-sheet forms) was projected with flashing seconds-which left issues unresolved when each new pair of debaters arrived. * "Does the A.M.P. medically assisted procreations) represent a progress?" (Many of the French phrases in the bilingual program were translated into nonidiomatic English.) Marsden Wagner, a physician with the World Health Organization European Office in Copenhagen, argued that IVF has helped very few infertile people and poses risks to women and babies, that money is better spent on preventing infertility, and that IVF cost estimates rarely include the longer hospitalization for women and the nurseries for premature babies.

In response physician Jean Cohen of Paris argued that many more "infertile" (meaning subfertile) couples become pregnant with IVF than by simply waiting, that prevention is of no help to couples already infertile, and that some people always the in the development of any new therapy. …

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