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Int J Fem Approaches Bioeth. 2008 Fall;1(2):5-22.

The second wave: Toward responsible inclusion of pregnant women in research.

Abstract

Though much progress has been made on inclusion of non-pregnant women in research, thoughtful discussion about including pregnant women has lagged behind. We outline resulting knowledge gaps and their costs and then highlight four reasons why ethically we are obliged to confront the challenges of including pregnant women in clinical research. These are: the need for effective treatment for women during pregnancy, fetal safety, harm from the reticence to prescribe potentially beneficial medication, and the broader issues of justice and access to benefits of research participation. Going forward requires shifting the burden of justification from inclusion to exclusion and developing an adequate ethical framework that specifies suitable justifications for excluding pregnant women from research.

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