Paying to Be Guinea Pigs: Exploiting the Dream of Motherhood—The Marketing of 'Fertility Insurance' in the United States and the Need for Greater Regulation of the Assisted Reproductive Technology Industry

Posted: 10 Jul 2006 Last revised: 15 May 2013

See all articles by Seema Mohapatra

Seema Mohapatra

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Abstract

The multi-billion dollar Assisted Reproductive Technology ("ART") industry in the United States is largely unregulated and privately funded. The lack of regulation of this arena has resulted in women being exploited financially and emotionally by a self serving industry. This paper/presentation will explore the United States' dark history of exploitation in the medical research arena (examples: Tuskegee, Willowbrook, Kennedy Krieger). Given this backdrop and the financial conflicts of interests facing fertility clinics and specialists, it is overly optimistic and naïve to expect the ART industry to act in the best interests of their clients. This paper/presentation examines the example of oocyte cryopreservation, commonly known as egg freezing, to demonstrate the need for greater regulation in the ART arena. In the past, only female cancer patients who had to undergo chemotherapy and therefore risk future infertility have had access to egg freezing. However, in the United States, this procedure is increasingly being offered to healthy women in their late twenties and early thirties as a method of extending their fertility. Theoretically, this technology sounds promising as a means for allowing women to have greater control over their biological clocks. Unfortunately, there is little in the scientific literature to support the contention that egg freezing will result in a successful pregnancy or live birth. This paper/presentation examines how the unregulated marketing of this largely untested procedure to a vulnerable population, women in their thirties who have strong feelings about fertility, has great potential for exploitation. Although many have argued that this lack of regulation has many benefits (allowed for greater technological innovations in the area of assisted reproduction and allowed women to have more freedom over their reproductive choices), this paper will suggest how regulation may actually increase autonomy.

Keywords: Egg Freezing, Assisted Reproductive Technology, Health Law, Cryopreservation

Suggested Citation

Mohapatra, Seema, Paying to Be Guinea Pigs: Exploiting the Dream of Motherhood—The Marketing of 'Fertility Insurance' in the United States and the Need for Greater Regulation of the Assisted Reproductive Technology Industry. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=912621

Seema Mohapatra (Contact Author)

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law ( email )

530 West New York Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
United States

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