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Invitro is defined as, ?In glass, as in a test tube? (Taber?s cyclopedic

dictionary,1993), hence with reference to invitro fertilization, the term

?Test tube baby?. The first ?test tube baby? was Louise Brown of England

(Jonsen, A. R., 1996). Dr. Patrick Steptoe and Professor Robert Edwards combined

an ovum from Mrs. Brown, and sperm from Mr. Brown cultured it in a petri dish,

and reimplanted the now embryo into Mrs. Brown?s uterus (Jonsen, A. R.,1996).

The result was the same as a child born in the usual way, only the means to the

end was different. The media had a field day with this, and since then,

reproduction as we know it has changed. We now use the term ?assisted

reproduction? to describe a host of methods used to assist infertile couples

to have children. A menagerie of large terms, abbreviations, and acronyms are

used under the umbrella of this term, such as GIFT, IVF, FSH, AID, etc. The

bottom line is that technology has allowed man to take yet another matter into

his own hands, that may be considered ?playing God?. As with any new

procedure or product, there are always ?bugs to work out?. Sometimes we can

anticipate what these will be, but many times we ?cross that bridge when we

come to it?. Such seems to be the case with assisted reproduction. Considering

the complicated custody battles already occurring with regard to our

?naturally made children?, we have seen, and can anticipate more tangled

legal webs ahead. Not much has been done to anticipate the complexities involved

with assisted reproduction. In 1975, a federal law was enacted that created an

Ethics Advisory Board (EAB)(Caplan, A. L., 1990). In 1979, this organization

issued a report merely stating that invitro fertilization was worthy of monetary

funds (Caplan, A. L., 1990). The EAB disbanded in 1979 (Caplan, A. L., 1990). In

1994, The American Society for Reproductive Medicine designed a set of ethical

considerations, but compliance is voluntary (Klotzko, A. J., 1998). Since no

real regulatory agency exists, IVF is done as providers see fit. The formation

of The American Society for Reproductive medicine reflects the fact that there

are clearly many ethical issues with regard to IVF. Three issues are the

following: 1. Previously, an embryo has been a part of a woman?s body. Roe vs.

Wade based it?s decision on abortion being part of a woman?s privacy. With

regard to frozen embryos which are not a part of the women?s body, does she

have the right to choose their fate, and does the father have equal say? 2. Do

the potential parents of these embryos have the right to change their minds

about becoming parents once the embryos have been frozen? 3. In complicated

matters with multiple parents, does multiple parental roles with visitation

rights adversely affect a child?s social development? When one is discussing

abortion, the argument heard most often by the advocates of pro-choice is that

this is a matter of a woman controlling what goes on with her body. Furthermore,

advocates claim, that as such, the elimination of the fetus falls under this

right of privacy. Pro-life advocates feel that these embryos are individual

human beings entitled to the right to be born. Embryos are considered life in

the earliest of stages. However, what we have here are frozen embryos, suspended

if you will in a state of non-life. They clearly do not reside in the woman?s

body as of yet, and if kept in the current state, will never give breath. It

seems that the prochoicers would have to extend their definition of these being

a part of the woman?s body, to giving their potential to be such, meaning as

well. While they are not a part of the woman?s body yet, this is the intended

place for them to grow, and obviously they cannot grow inside of the father, at

least yet. The prolife, and paternal argument would be that these embryos are

clearly not a part of the woman?s body. They could be implanted in any woman,

not necessarily the mother. Therefore, the mother does not have the right to

abort the embryos. Furthermore, the male may have the right to claim custody for

implantation in another suitable candidate other than the mother if she is

unwilling. What we have in the case of Mary Davis and Junior Davis is a woman

fighting to have her own embryos implanted in her own uterus. Based on some of

the facts above however, does the father now have more right over the embryos,

since this process has not yet taken place? Obviously the situation here is very

complex. Unfortunately these types of situations could be prevented through

forethought. Couples undergoing these types of procedures clearly need to

anticipate all scenarios. Practitioners could easily fit issues into the

counseling phase, and even request to have documentation of such before these

procedures are done. A contract could cover many different possibilities.

Anticipatory decision-making certainly would alleviate the daunting task of

deciding these issues after the fact. However, the court system often has the

responsibility of deciding these very personal matters. What is clear here is

that we have seven potential people. We also have a willing, assumingly capable

mother. What we do not have is a willing father. If a person who had been raised

solely by his/her mother were asked if he/she would like to never have been

born, I doubt too many would say yes. It is for this reason, that I feel the

embryos certainly are entitled at their chance at life. I further qualify this

argument to state, that if the situation were reversed, with the father desiring

to implant the embryos into another female (possibly his new partner), I would

advise that the embryos should be given to the father. Furthermore, this father

could not take back the children if the previous attempts had been successful.

Therefore, why should he be entitled to do so now? The statement that these

?children in vitro? whose best interest required ?that they be available

for implantation? is key. These are truly ?children in vitro?. They are

not part of the mother?s body. Therefore, their options at life do not hinge

on one certain person and the privacy issues relating to her body. Now I wish to

address some details here. The father does not wish to be a parent here. Does

this clear him of responsibility to these children? Clearly, the father?s

morality should preclude that he would want to be involved in the life of his

children. Obviously, this is not always the case. Therefore, is he obliged to

have visitation, or pay support? My argument for this is no. The father has

shown his desire not to become a parent. As such, he relinquishes his tie to

these children. He should not be required to pay support, nor have visitation.

The best interest of these children does not lie in having a ?shotgun?

father. What I would say to these parents would depend on my role. As a health

care professional, it would be difficult to step in and advise at all. I would

rather try to facilitate examination of their own beliefs. Hopefully, I would

have had the pleasure to meet with this couple before this scenario, in order to

assist with some preemptive decision making. If this couple however, was truly

desiring an honest an open opinion, and asking for my true feelings in advising

them, what would I say? My speech, would go something like this: ?What we have

here will influence moral decisions of many in the future. It must be considered

that what you do here, will be a looked upon by other couples facing these very

difficult issues in the future. Coming to an agreement based on sound moral

reasoning will show an example for the future. If couples begin to work these

issues out without legal litigation, these very personal matters remain

personal. These are issues of family. How you wish to handle your family is

considered a right by many. If these situations can be agreed upon, lawmakers

will be able to avoid interference in family matters. The creation of laws and

regulations will inevitably fall short of the vast amount of variability needed

to fairly pervade over every situation. With that said, I would implore you to

work out your differences. ?If you are still unable to do this, allow me to be

candid. It is my opinion that these are seven potential children. They were

created by the both of you at a time in your life when this was something you

both wanted. They were created through thought and planning. Many things in life

are done by accident, but these embryos are not one of them. If you still do not

wish to be a parent, Mr. Davis, then perhaps you would acquiesce if some

stipulations were made. Mrs. Davis has asked to be a responsible party for the

embryos. Perhaps we could create a release of responsibility for Mr. Davis,

relieving him of all duty in matters of visitation and support. I do not

necessarily condone this release from fatherhood, but it may provide an avenue

to come to an agreement. Unfortunately, the idea of whether or not these embryos

are considered children weighs heavily on the matter. This issue boils down to

your feelings on abortion. Heavily weigh your options and remember the world

will be watching.? The option exists in the current situation to give life to

the embryos with neither actual parent needing to really be involved in the

matter i.e. donation to the infertile couple. Reality here however, lies in the

possibility that the child may hold the parent responsible in one way, shape or

form in the future. Yet another possibility, a statistically sound one at that,

is that the embryos may not even come to term successfully. There are many

unknowns here, and all factors cannot be anticipated. Society can now control

many factors, but fate still pervades some aspects. Along with the technological

advances in society, we have created options that never would have been

conceived before. Issues of reproduction and abortion are issues that once were

controlled by fate. Having a hand in such matters of such monstrous proportion

requires us as people to hold ourselves to a standard that possibly cannot be

done by humans. For this reason, reproduction may have been better served by the

one who used to control it, before man took over.

Caplan, A. L. (1990). The ethics of in vitro fertilization. In R. T. Hull

Ethical issues in the new reproductive technologies (pp. 96-108). Belmont, CA:

Wadsworth. Jonsen, A. R. (1996). ?O brave new world?: Rationality in

reproduction. In D.C. Thomasma & T. Kushner (Eds.) Birth to death: Science

and bioethics. (pp.50-57). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Klotzko, A. J. (1998). Medical miracle or medical mischief? The saga of the

McCaughey septuplets. Hastings Center Report.28(3), 5-8. Shapiro, R. (1998). Who

owns your frozen embryo? Promises and pitfalls of emerging reproductive options.

Human Rights25(2). Taber?s cyclopedic medical dictionary(1993.). Philadelphia,

Davis Company, F. A.

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