IVF errors allegedly go unreported as fertility industry balks at further regulation

reproductive technology, IVF, fertility treatments, donor

A new article by The Washington Post argues that there are more errors within the fertility industry and in-vitro fertilization (IVF) than people realize — and that when these errors happen, they often go unreported.

Though the fertility industry has claimed that it is already well-regulated, The Washington Post article gives evidence otherwise. It noted that, though patients do have the option to sue if things go wrong, fertility clinics typically settle and require non-disclosure agreements. This means the secrecy surrounding the fertility industry is maintained.

“The vast, vast supermajority of mistakes in fertility clinics, the public doesn’t even know about,” Adam B. Wolf, an attorney who has represented numerous fertility plaintiffs, said.

The Washington Post pointed out that the number of people taking steps to potentially undergo IVF is rising, and the number of people freezing their eggs and embryos has doubled since 2017. Meanwhile, the number of well-trained staff has not kept up with the increased demand.

READ: Sperm donor who fathered at least 71 kids now starring on ’90 Day Fiancé’

This is far from the first time the fertility industry has been criticized for being under-regulated, even as it tries to fight back against those claims. “This specialized medical field is often criticized as being a ‘Wild West’ in which anything goes,” Kerry Lynn Macintosh, a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said in a previous interview with Vox. “In my opinion, that criticism is inaccurate and unfair.”

Yet what is, once again, unacknowledged is that part of the issue with under-regulation involves the children being conceived through IVF and the fertility industry… not how well eggs are stored in cryopreservation tanks.

Sperm and egg donation is essentially a free-for-all, with anonymity often guaranteed. The children conceived using donor materials, therefore, are deprived not only of their biological parents, but of basic information about their medical histories and heritage. With sperm donors, specifically, there is also the increasing problem of donor-conceived children having hundreds, if not thousands, of siblings. There are also largely no background checks performed on the people who seek children using donors and/or surrogates, allowing those who would be barred from foster care or adoption to become parents anyway. And a Harvard Medical School study found that 62% of children conceived through donor technologies believe it to be unethical and immoral. Yet, as the Washington Post article illustrated, these issues are not discussed.

When it comes to IVF errors, the only people whose impacts are mentioned are the would-be parents. The children they’re purchasing are ignored.

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