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Med Law. 1997;16(4):779-88.

"Baby oh baby"--advances in assisted reproductive technology.

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  • 1Dept. of Psychiatry & Health Behavior, Medical College of Georgia Augusta, USA.


It is estimated that one couple in six in the United States has to deal with issues of infertility. It is assumed that worldwide rates are comparable. In 35% of cases, the infertility is caused by female reproductive problems, in 35% by male reproductive problems, in 15% by multiple factors and in 15% the cause is unknown. Medical and scientific advances in Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) have created 12 different pregnancy producing options for infertile couples. An ART infant could have as many as five parents (i.e. a donor father, a donor mother, a surrogate or gestational mother, and the couple actually rearing the child). These technical, medical, and moral complexities have resulted in a nightmare of accompanying legal complexities: anonymous donors versus those with identification disclosed, parental rights, grandparental rights, the rights of siblings and of the extended families; sperm, ovum and embryo "ownership", custody, visitation and inheritance rights and multiple other issues challenge a system of laws that evolves far slower than the technological realities to which it applies. This presentation will describe Assisted Reproductive Technology advances and the legal implications inherent in them. Case histories will be discussed.

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