Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Basics For When Your Patients Ask
What is “ART”?
Since the birth of the first “test tube baby”, Louise Brown, in 1978, couples and individuals desiring to have a child have used invitro fertilization (IVF) as a way to help them achieve their desires with family planning. The Mayo Clinic defines IVF as the process where mature eggs are retrieved from a woman’s ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab. Then the fertilized egg (embryo) or eggs are implanted in a woman’s uterus. One cycle of IVF takes about two weeks. IVF is the most common way an individual or a couple uses assisted reproductive technology (ART) to achieve pregnancy and subsequent birth of a child. Another form of ART is gestational surrogacy, which involves a third-party woman who carries a fetus to term for another individual or couple who desires to become the legal parent(s) of the child.
How can a physician help patients who are considering ART?
Individuals and couples who utilize ART undergo many emotions and must make some very important decisions in how they want to move forward with family planning. A primary care physician, whether it is a family medicine practitioner or internist, can be the first physician who speaks with their patient about utilizing ART. Some may have already met with an OB-GYN to discuss their fertility issues as well. A primary care physician can listen and serve as a sounding board for an individual or couple who is experiencing fertility issues. A reproductive endocrinologist can help guide the patient in their journey to having a child.
Legal Aspects of ART
Since ART is a technology that is rapidly evolving, the law is starting to catch up but arguably not fast enough. While there is no “federal” law on ART, all states vary in their approach to ART legal issues. For example, California is very amenable to couples who want to utilize ART while New York still bans surrogacy. Illinois is recognized one of the best states in the country for those who want to utilize ART for their reproductive purposes due to the passage of the Illinois Gestational Surrogacy Act in 2008, which lays out the legal framework for surrogacy arrangements.
Resources for Patients
Many resources exist for patients who are considering ART. One of them is RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association, which can provide a lot of information to parent(s) who are new to ART. For physicians who want to learn more about ART, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) publishes articles and webinars for legal and medical ART practitioners on various topics affecting their respective practices.
For more information please contact Mamta Mujumdar at Malecki & Brooks Law Group LLC at +1.630.948.4907.
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