Author(s): Krones T, Neuwohner E, El Ansari S, Wissner T, Richter G
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Abstract Definition of problem: BACKGROUND: Reproductive Biomedicine and new reproductive technologies (ART) belong to the fields of medicine that initiated most of the discussion on enhancement and desire fulfilling medicine in bioethics during the last years. One of the crucial questions to be answered is the definition of the right to procreate/right for a genetically related child. Closely connected are controversial opinions in regard to the definition of sterility as a disease/illness, or a mere fate, or malfunction, which does not have to be medically cured. Arguments: After a cursory description of the national and international debate, we introduce some results of our 'bioethical field studies', exploring and comparing the views of experts (human geneticists, ethicists, pediatricians, obstetricians and midwifes) and couples/patients (IVF couples, high genetic risk couples and couples with no known risk for an inherited disease or infertility problem) on sterility, the right to procreate, possibilities and appropriate limits of IVF in Germany. CONCLUSION: According to the WHO, sterility has to be defined as an illness, if the respective couples have a desire for a child. IVF can be a means for a cure. Since 2004, Germany does no longer supply a thoroughly insurer financed IVF treatment. Our surveys indicate that this change, though supported by many experts, is hard to accept for couples concerned. Only obstetricians share the WHO's view that sterility should count as an illness. Many ethicists see a proclaimed human right to procreate as merely negative right, although many support free IVF treatment for poor couples. We challenge the expert majority view on the basis of the capability approach (Amartya Sen) and functional liberalism (Herlinde Pauer Studer) and with a view to the international state of the art in IVF. The desire to have children cannot be reduced to a non-authoritative preference whose fulfillment is optional, but has to be conceptualized as a normative need that ought to be met.
This article was published in Ethik Med
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy