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Infertility: Ethical and Legal Concerns


Reproductive research and treatment raise many ethical and legal concerns. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has issued a number of statements about these issues. Go to its website at to review these statements.

Multiple pregnancy

Transferring several fertilized eggs during assisted fertilization techniques (as for in vitro fertilization) increases the chances that you will conceive two or more fetuses at the same time. Multiple pregnancy increases the risk of premature birth, low birth weight, and health problems for you and your babies. And it raises the risk of one or more of the babies having a disability. Talk to your doctor about how you can increase your chances of conception and decrease the chances of having a multiple pregnancy.


If you are planning to use assisted reproductive technology, your clinic may offer to freeze extra fertilized eggs for future conception attempts. Be sure to give written instructions for what to do with any eggs that you don't use. Think about what you want done with them in the case of death or divorce. Also think about what you want done with the eggs if the clinic isn't able to contact you in the future.

Donor eggs or sperm, or surrogate

You may plan to use eggs or sperm from someone you know. Or maybe you're planning to have someone else (a surrogate) carry your fetus until birth. If so, talk to your clinic or an attorney experienced in this area. Draw up a contract that defines what rights and responsibilities each party has to the future child and your family.

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Current as of: November 27, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.


PeaceHealth endeavors to provide comprehensive health care information, however some topics in this database describe services and procedures not offered by our providers or within our facilities because they do not comply with, nor are they condoned by, the ethics policies of our organization.