Waldlaw Blog

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

As I Was Saying....

On Friday, I blogged about the "octo-mom" and my concern that the problems with her situation were going to lead to bad law. Well, see today's Wall Street Journal. According to today's Journal article, entitled "In-Vitro Fertilization Limit Is Sought," legislators in both Georgia and Missouri have already submitted bills to their Legislatures to limit the number of embryos that can be implanted in any one in vitro cycle. The bill proposed in Georgia would also limit the number of embryos created in any cycle to the number to actually be implanted in that cycle, thereby preventing the freezing of embryos for later use. Lawmakers sponsoring these bills admit that they are largely being guided by the anti-abortion lobby, which believes that life begins at conception and therefore is deeply concerned with destruction of unused embryos. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine, which already has guidelines in place limiting the number of embryos to be implanted during any cycle based on a woman's age and her infertility diagnosis, opposes legislating these issues, believing that these decisions should be left to the woman involved and her physician. They have issued a statement, in response to the "octo-mom" case, setting out their position. These are very complex issues. Clearly, the "octo-mom" case is a train wreck. Clearly, a lot of questions are raised by a physician implanting 6 embryos in a very fertile woman, and if medical ethics guidelines and/or standards of practice were violated, they will need to be addressed by the California Medical Association or whatever agency addresses these types of issues for doctors (for lawyers, it would be the State Bar). Clearly, there are lessons here for us all. And, at some point, states may need to intervene to set outer limits if the medical profession is unable to hold their own accountable. But for the most part, I do not believe that our legislatures should be telling women how to address their personal reproductive concerns -- we've been down that road already, in the case of abortion, and have seen where it takes us.


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