NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 26, 2005

Few U.S. fertility clinics have policies for deciding who to help get pregnant, according to a new survey published in "Fertility and Sterility," a journal of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

"Assisted reproductive technologies are too driven by the desires of couples and not enough by the interests of children," says Arthur Caplan, bioethics chairman at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the survey's authors.

Researchers sent surveys to the directors of 369 clinics or doctors' offices offering these services across the country; 210 responded. One of the main findings was that a whopping 80 percent of clinics had customers meet with financial coordinators, but only 18 percent had them see a social worker or psychologist. Other results:

  • Four percent of potential customers were turned away each year.
  • Only 28 percent had formal policies on who they accept or deny.
  • When asked if they believed everyone has a right to have a child, 59 percent said yes.
  • One in five would refuse single women, but five percent don't even ask about marital status.

Furthermore, the survey's questions on medical conditions elicited different responses: only three percent said they were unwilling to deal with a blind couple and 59 percent flat out refused to treat women with HIV.

The survey's results demonstrate "how variable the values are," says Caplan. If one clinic refuses you, "just down the road is another place that might take you." He is urging states to set guidelines on the big issues, like women having babies after menopause.

Source: Marilyn Marchione, "Fertility Clinics Have Differing Policies," Associated Press, January 19, 2005; and Andrea D. Gurmankin, Arthur L. Caplan and Andrea M. Braverman, "Screening practices and beliefs of assisted reproductive technology programs," Volume 83, Issue 1, Fertility and Sterility, January 2005.


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