The news about octuplet mom Nadya Suleman raises serious concerns about medical ethics, profit motive, regulation, and oversight in the fertility industry. According to the CDC, 80 percent of U.S. fertility clinics don’t follow the embryo implant guidelines established in 1999 by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, and it turns out that the entire industry is self regulated.
“Assisted reproduction is a multibillion-dollar business. Like other commercial enterprises, it needs rules.” – Marcy Darnovsky, of the Center for Genetics and Society in Oakland.
Fertility clinics are now advertising the availability to screen for gender, eye color, hair color and complexion through the use of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). The current use of PGD for gender selection is prohibited in over 35 countries, but evidently the money flowing into fertility clinics keeps the practice in demand in the US.
“The industry sees this not just as inevitable, but incredibly lucrative.” – Art Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics, University of Pennsylvania
California State Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod is seeking more oversight with her bill SB 674, a measure that establishes accreditation standards and guidelines for the operation of fertility clinics and cosmetic surgery centers.
“It is alarming that the State of California has no one watching out for patients who go to these fertility clinics or surgical centers. There should be a greater level of scrutiny over these clinics because of their increasing popularity.” – McLeod
The bill puts fertility clinics under the jurisdiction of the Medical Board of California and their approved accrediting agencies.
“Patients have the right to know if their physician has even been trained or board certified in the specialty he or she is attempting to perform.” – McLeod
I find it unbelievable that these clinics are not regulated at all right now. How is it possible that this has become such a big business without any sort of regulation other than ‘voluntary’ guidelines?
Image: cesarastudillo at Flickr under CC license