Bioethics Blogs



“We believe that even a single foetal reduction is ethically questionable and that the practice should not be in use at all”.

One of the main consequences of the use of In Vitro Fertilization is the significant increase in multiple pregnancies; however this can also be caused by ovarian stimulation and intrauterine insemination.

It is widely known that multiple pregnancies increase the risk of suffering from other medical problems in both mothers and their foetuses.

That is why the number of implanted embryos is often regulated in order to reduce the number of multiple pregnancies, especially when there is no decrease in the rate of pregnancy and live births with single embryo transfer, when compared to multiple embryo transfer (Fertil Steril 95; 491, 2010), although not all experts are in agreement on this fact.

As a consequence, some countries have passed laws which regulate the number of embryos that can be transferred, limiting them to no more than two or three. Other countries do not have any regulations to this effect.

At any rate, it is clear that multiple pregnancies still occur and the way to “solve” this issue is to try to reduce the number of foetuses in order to increase the survival rate of those which remain after said reduction.

But before we continue, it is important to first understand what we mean when we say foetus reduction as opposed to selective termination (Reproductive BioMedicine Online, 26; 542-554, 2013). The latter term refers to eliminating foetuses which suffer from some medical condition, Down Syndrome in particular while the first term refers to the elimination of healthy foetuses, and its only aim is to “solve” the problem of multiple pregnancies.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.