Assisted reproduction offers hope to patients who want children but are unable to have a child without medical assistance. In many cases, patients who seek assistance have been repeatedly frustrated in their attempts to have a child and are psychologically very vulnerable. Patients whose health insurance does not cover assisted reproductive services may also be financially vulnerable. Candor and respect are thus essential for ethical practice.
“Assisted reproductive technology” is understood as all treatments or procedures that include the handling of human oocytes or embryos. It encompasses an increasingly complex range of interventions—such as therapeutic donor insemination, ovarian stimulation, ova and sperm retrieval, in vitro fertilization, gamete intrafallopian transfer—and may involve multiple participants.
Physicians should increase their awareness of infertility treatments and options for their patients. Physicians who offer assisted reproductive services should:
- Value the well-being of the patient and potential offspring as paramount.
- Ensure that all advertising for services and promotional materials are accurate and not misleading.
- Provide patients with all of the information they need to make an informed decision, including investigational techniques to be used (if any); risks, benefits, and limitations of treatment options and alternatives, for the patient and potential offspring; accurate, clinic-specific success rates; and costs.
- Provide patients with psychological assessment, support and counseling or a referral to such services.
- Base fees on the value of the service provided. Physicians may enter into agreements with patients to refund all or a portion of fees if the patient does not conceive where such agreements are legally permitted.
- Not discriminate against patients who have difficult-to-treat conditions, whose infertility has multiple causes, or on the basis of race, socioeconomic status, or sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Participate in the development of peer-established guidelines and self-regulation.
AMA Principles of Medical Ethics: I, V, VII
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