Every So Often I Find Myself With Situations That Pose Ethical Problems

In our Sterility Team we often find ourselves in situations that are ethically problematic. Luckily, we are several thinking tanks, which allows us to see the situation from many perspectives and reach a unified decision.

Our basic principles:

  1. We are doctors, and by that I mean that our sole objective is to help others; more specifically, in our case, to help them to become parents. Sterility, according to the WHO (World Health Organization), is a disease, not an incapacity.
  2. The last adjustment in the Spanish Reproductive Assistance Law discarded the paragraph that stated that patients need to be psychophysically sane, reason being that there are diseases that don’t hinder the patient’s ability to be a parent even if they aren’t totally healthy. For instance, paraplegics in wheel chairs.
  3. We aren’t the police, so we don’t demand certificates to ensure that the male accompanying the patient is actually legally married to her.
  4. Certain situations occur before law considers them. For instance, female married couples have come to us asking to become mothers with a sperm donor, using one’s egg and the other’s uterus, before such a technique was legally accepted.

I will comment some of these situations:

We have “suspicious couples” applying for an In Vitro Fertilization treatment: 50-60 year old european male comes with his Vietnamese or Ethiopian wife. There is a strong language barrier between them and they are unable to communicate. It is pretty clear that they met and agreed over the web, yet they come to us as a couple who want to have a child.

Or for example, a couple donates their surplus embryos after an IVF treatment. As it happens, I receive information that the man has been charged for beating up his wife. Even though this pathological conduct isn’t hereditary, I personally am incapable of assigning these embryos to a prospective couple.

What is your opinion? What do you think we should do?


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