Should Obese Women Be Denied IVF?
There are lots of risk factors when trying to conceive with IVF (in-vitro fertilization) and one of the big ones is weight, the other is age.
Wanna-be mothers can't do anything about their age, but they can perhaps do something about their weight. Doctors in Canada are discussing banning obese women from receiving IVF.
This is obviously a complicated topic that raises both ethical and medical questions. In a Globe and Mail article, Dr. Arthur Leader, co-founder of the Ottawa Fertility Centre, already bans women with a BMI over 35 from in-vitro procedures. He says: "We’ve had many angry patients say to us, ‘This is discriminatory’ and I say, ‘Yes, it is’ but I still won’t do it."
"A patient doesn’t have the right to make a choice that’s going to be harmful to them,” he said.
Some of the risks that Dr. Leader suggests include more side effects from the increased drug loads, possibly dangerous intubation and the higher rate of pre-eclampsia.
But there isn't consensus on this debate. Dr. Anthony Cheung from B.C. argues that asking a patient to go and lose weight creates a delay in starting the procedures. “If you lose time,” Dr. Cheung said, “then you have much higher risks with age.”
Currently, clinics don't ban smokers from receiving treatment, and smoking also creates higher risks for mothers and babies.
Dr. Cheung wonders if the ban is a paternalistic attitude from the medical profession towards obesity. But he sees the trend continuing.
Arthur Shafer, director for the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics, says: “It may be for some women that this is wise advice … but it’s ethically troubling.” He added, “In our society, the decision to procreate is left to the individual – so why would it be appropriate for the doctors to usurp those rights for women who are obese?”
Do you think refusing IVF treatment for obese women is discrimination? Or is it good medical practice?
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