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There are situations whereby couples are unable to conceive through natural means. These couples usually have various avenues that they can pursue in order to get a child (Dale and Elder, 2000). One of the most viable means of acquiring a baby is through the use of in-vitro-fertilization procedure (IVF). The IVF procedure entails the extraction of an ovum from the potential mother which is fertilized through artificial means using the husbands sperm. This procedure is usually carried out in the fertility clinic laboratory. Only the best carefully selected ova is fertilized with the healthiest sperm (Stepheneson and Wagner 2004). This procedure is also referred to as assisted reproductive technology. The healthiest embryo is then implanted into the womans uterus. This may not necessary be the biological mother of the child but could also be a surrogate mother (Stepheneson and Wagner 2004). The surrogate mother caries the child in her belly for nine months on behalf of the biological mother.
Assisted reproductive technology often results in the development of surplus embryos. This is because initially several ova are fertilized so that the most healthy is implanted in the womans uterus. This results to development of surplus healthy embryos. These embryos are deep frozen in liquid nitrogen within the fertility clinic. The purpose of storing these embryos is to enable the couple to use them again. The expenses of storing these embryos are met by the owner couple.
Recently there has been debate as to whether the unused embryos should be discarded through thawing or stored. The formation of extra embryos leaves one wondering what will happen to the unused embryos (Dale and Elder, 2000). Individual beliefs which are mostly influenced by religion determine what will happen to the unused embryos. Different religions hold different perception regarding human life. In fact the debate about whether life begins at conception or birth has been around for ages now. Pro- lifers believe that an embryo has a life and soul and should not be murdered. The pro-choicer believes that a five day embryo has a chance to develop to a full human being (Dale and Elder, 2000). However, other factors such as financial ability of the couple and the need for more babies in future may also play a vital role in determining the fate of the surplus embryos.
Policies have been passed to regulate the use of the IVF procedure. In December 2003 Italy passed the strict IVF bill which controls the creation and use of human embryos (Dale and Elder, 2000). The bill categorically banned single women from accessing this reproductive technique.Various country have developed policies to regulate the use of this procedure.
Unfortunately assisted reproductive techniques are expensive due to the expensive equipment required for the procedure. Some health care providers have developed packages that enable the procedure to be affordable (Stepheneson and Wagner 2004). Some insurance companies also cover the IVF procedure. Couples may have to meet the bill together in order to cover the entire cost. On the other hand where only one couple is financially capable then he/she alone meets the bill. A mutual agreement on settling the bill should be reached before the procedure is undertaken.
Traditional surrogacy involves the fertilization of the surrogate mothers eggs with sperms from the husband. There are known cases whereby the surrogate mother has refused to give up the baby because she thinks the baby is hers. On the other hand gestational surrogacy involves implantation of the fertilized egg in the surrogate mothers uterus. Many fertility clinics encourage the use of a close family member in order to eliminate the problem of giving up the child (Dale and Elder, 2000). Where the surrogate mother is a close family member then there are no problems regarding to visitation rights.
The use of in-vitro fertilization technology is necessary for aiding conception of babies to couples who could not conceive. The benefits of IVF are enormous however the regulation of assisted reproductive technology is essential. Couples who are able to agree on the technical issues relating to this procedure stand to benefit the best.