Monday, December 13, 2010
The birth of eight children to Nadya Suleman led to an outcry over the common practice in assisted reproduction of transferring multiple embryos to a woman during in vitro fertilization (IVF). The practice can increase the chances of a live birth, but greatly raises the likelihood of multiple births, with their substantial health risks to mother and children and substantial health care costs to society. Professional guidelines, as well as laws in other countries, place limits on the acceptable number of embryos transferred in IVF.
This paper considers the problems with multiple embryo transfers and the experience in other countries with statutory limits. After reviewing the reasons why women might prefer multiple embryo transfers, including the desire to maximize their likelihood of having a child and the desire to minimize their costs for IVF, this paper recommends legal restrictions on multiple embryo transfers in the United States, together with insurance coverage for the costs of IVF.