Misuse of IVF

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Relevance:

GS- 3 Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life
GS-4 Ethics

Context: 

A group of reproductive health providers have strongly condemned the case of a 74-year-old giving birth recently and allegedly becoming the oldest mother in the world.

Beyond the fertility age of a woman, there is an increased risk of producing eggs and embryos with chromosomal and other abnormalities. IVF at advanced ages comes with the risks of pregnancy loss, etc.

They have stated that the Assisted Reproductive Technology services shall not be available to a woman below the age of 18 years and above the age of 45 years, as per the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2017.

But this lacks enforcement and legislative backing, hence there is an urgent need for ratification of such bill in order to bring in more transparency and regulate malpractices.

Background:

About IVF

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a process of fertilisation where an egg is combined with sperm outside the body, in vitro (“in glass”). The process involves monitoring and stimulating a woman's ovulatory process, removing an ovum or ova (egg or eggs) from the woman's ovaries and letting sperm fertilize them in a liquid in a laboratory. After the fertilized egg (zygote) undergoes embryo culture for 2–6 days, it is implanted in the same or another woman's uterus, with the intention of establishing a successful pregnancy.

IVF is a type of assisted reproductive technology used for infertility treatment and gestational surrogacy. The first successful IVF procedure was carried out in 1978. The technique was developed by Robert G Edwards, who was awarded Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2010.

Uses of IVF

It is useful in following types of medical problems

  • Infertility due to blocked or damaged fallopian tubes.
  • Male factor infertility low sperm count
  • Ovulation disorders, ovarian failures, uterine fibroids.

Ethical Complications involved with IVF methods

  1. As multiple embryos are inserted to achieve a higher success rate, there is a risk of multiple births, pregnancy loss and also prematurity remain eminent, this remains a threat to the right of life for fetuses, as claimed by many pro-life activists
  2. The technique has also been known to have caused distortions in sex-ratio which leads to gender inequality.
  3. Genetic Engineering: Selective breeding, eugenic screening that IVF procedures can facilitate, may eventually lead to designer babies with features carefully suited to parent's preferences. This will amount to containing natural diversity among human beings.
  4. Other Medical Complications:
    • There are also risks of infectious diseases being transmitted from the donor to the host.
    • Medicines prescribed to women to stimulate ovaries for retrieving eggs can result, at times in ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome which is characterized by swollen and painful ovaries.
    • IVF babies have a higher relative risk of birth defects than normal ones.
  5. Psychological Duress: Assisted reproductive technology (ART) involves a significant physical, financial, and emotional commitment on the part of a couple. As a result of which there are magnified chances of distress and depression if the process turns out to be unsuccessful.
  6. Low success rate: The success rate currently, in IVF procedures, stands at nearly 35%.
  7. Dilemma's emerge over unwanted and orphaned embryos.
  8. Theists hold it to be unnatural as it is against the will of God.
  9. Stigma of the Society: Infertility also continues to be stigmatized in the society. This adds to the psychological distress of a childless/ infertile couple.
  10. Increasing the gap between have and have-not's: IVF procedures are costly and are not affordable for everyone.The latest improvements in IVF have still not been incorporated in India, owing to highly prohibitive costs.
  11. Rise of Quacks and Unauthorised Personnel: Given the rise in female and male infertility, the medical infrastructure in the country at present is inadequate to cater to the rising problem. As a result, there remains a sizeable network of quacks and unauthorized personnel who continue to treat infertility.

 

 



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