Couples who are unable to conceive babies naturally can perform an in-vitro- fertilization (IVF) procedure. This procedure involves the extraction of ova from the woman’s body which are later fertilized using the husband’s sperm (Dale and Elder, 2000). The ova are fertilized using the husband’s sperm at the laboratory within the fertility clinic. This procedure is sometimes referred to as assisted reproductive technology. The healthiest fertilized embryos are then implanted into the woman’s uterus. The woman then goes through the nine-month gestation period before birth. Surrogate mothers may be employed to carry the fetus for the nine-month gestation period (Stepheneson and wagner, 2004).
Surplus embryos are often developed during use of reproductive technology. These embryos are deep-frozen in liquid nitrogen. This procedure is called cryopreservation. Some embryos may die during freezing while some are subsequently thawed (Dale and elder, 2000). However, storage of these embryos enables the couple to use them again. The expenses for storing the embryo are usually met by the owner couple.
Ethical consideration regarding IVF procedure depends on individual’s belief of human life. Different religions have different perceptions regarding human life. Some people believe that life begins after conception while other groups argue that life begins after birth. The decision to store or thaw unused embryo lies with the owner couple.
In cases where more embryos are developed than required, the owner couples are faced with the challenge of what to do with the excess embryos. One may be maintain the embryos in a frozen state indefinitely or donate them for scientific research or to other couples. One may choose to thaw and not use the embryo. Some couples may not want to donate their unused embryos for scientific purposes. They are allowed to thaw the embryo so that it may not be used in future. The owner couple makes decisions regarding what to do with the unused embryos. Some clinics require mutual agreement by both couples to thaw the embryos. In case one of the couple feels that the embryo should not be thawed then embryo is preserved (Stepheneson and Wagner, 2004). There are several challenges when it comes to decision making among divorced couples. In case the couple divorces the embryos should not be used until both are in agreement. This may entail thawing, donating the embryo or implanting them in the uterus of the woman or surrogate mother.
One or both of the couples can pay the expenses incurred in the IVF procedure. In cases whereby one of the members is not capable of meeting the bill, then the other may pay for the expenses. In some cases, the couple may pool their funds in order to meet the expenses (Stepheneson and Wagner, 2004).. Most fertility clinics will establish that the couple can pay the bill even before the procedure is done.
In the recent past questions have emerged as to whether the surrogate mother should be allowed visitation rights to the baby. Most couples believe that surrogate mothers should not be granted visitation rights (Dale and Elder, 2000).This is because the ovary did not belong to her in the first place. In most cases, the surrogate mother signs an agreement before carrying the baby. These agreements may deny or grant the surrogate mother the visitation rights to the child. Such agreements are usually valid in most countries.
In-vitro fertilization technology has enable couples who could not get babies naturally finally get one. However, issues regarding decision making among the couple especially after divorce have proven difficult to solve. Courts have been left to give final decision to these emerging issues.