Multiple Pregnancy: Legal and Ethical Issues
International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, No, 103, pp. 270-274, 2008
6 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2009 Last revised: 3 Feb 2009
Date Written: January 14, 2009
Multiple pregnancy is increasingly considered a complication of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and ovarian stimulation for natural fertilization. Harms to fetuses, newborn and older children, mothers, families, and healthcare systems are encouraging single embryo transfer. When patients knowingly accept multiple pregnancy risks from IVF or ovarian stimulation, they are unlikely to succeed in litigation against healthcare providers for wrongful pregnancy or wrongful birth. More challenging are impaired children's claims for "wrongful life." These are unlikely to succeed against parents, but courts are ambivalent to claims against healthcare providers. Historically, courts rejected these claims, under the principle that live birth is not a legal injury. European and other courts, however, have been more sympathetic to these claims. Multiple pregnancy treated by fetal reduction is not usually found to offend abortion laws. This poses ethical concerns, however, of "lifeboat ethics," involving how fetal reduction choices are made.
Keywords: Ethics of fetal reduction, Fetal reduction, Legal liability in multiple pregnancy, Multiple pregnancy, Single embryo transfer, Twin pregnancy, Wrongful birth
JEL Classification: K10, J13, I10, I18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation