Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Monday, November 15, 2021

Poor Regulation of Fertility Industry

From Naomi Cahn (UVA) and Dena Sharp (UC Hastings), writing for the Conversation:

When embryologist Joseph Conaghan arrived at work at San Francisco’s Pacific Fertility Center on March 4, 2018, nothing seemed awry. He did routine inspections of the facility’s cryogenic tanks, which store frozen embryos and eggs for clients who hope to someday have biological children.

But what he found was not routine; it was an emergency. Almost all of the liquid nitrogen inside Tank 4 had drained out. Conaghan and his staff tried to save 80 metal boxes of frozen reproductive material, but it was too late. The contents had warmed, damaging or destroying 1,500 eggs and 2,500 embryos.

Some belonged to a couple who traveled cross-country from their farm in Ohio, hoping to build their family from frozen embryos. A single woman in her early 40s was hoping to soon use her preserved eggs with “Mr. Right.”

For many, infertility is a significant challenge: In 2018, 12.7% of American women sought infertility services, according to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. As experts on regulation of the fertility industry, we are concerned about protecting those who need these interventions. There is little oversight in the U.S. of the industry, with no requirement that clinics report problems – including tank failures. As Professor Dov Fox of the University of San Diego Law School told a reporter: “These tanks specifically, they’re not regulated any better than kitchen appliances or farm tools.”

Read more here.

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