Some legal and ethical issues in assisted reproductive technology

Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 66 (1999) 55-61

BM Dickens, RJ Cook

Abstract:

The potential and actual applications of reproductive technologies have been reviewed by many governmental committees, and laws have been enacted in several countries to accommodate, limit and regulate their use. Regulatory systems have nevertheless left some legal and ethical issues unresolved, and have caused other issues to arise. Issues that regulatory systems leave unresolved, or that systems have created, include disposal of embryos that remain after patients’ treatments are concluded, and multiple implantation and pregnancy. This may result in risks to maternal, embryonic and neonatal life and health, and the contentious relief that may be achieved by selective reduction of multiple pregnancies. A further concern arises when clinics must or choose to publicize their success rates, and they compete for favorable statistics  by questionable patient selection criteria and treatment priorities. [Full Text]

K-Mart pharmacist fired for refusing to dispense potential embryocide

 Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A

Karen L. Brauer M.S. R.Ph*

I was fired from my position as a pharmacist with the KMart Corporation for refusal to dispense Micronor, a progestin-only  “minipill”, for the purpose of birth control.

. . . My name is Karen L. Brauer. My “alphabet soup” is M.S. R.Ph., and I am a practicing community pharmacist. Prior to this (my favorite) career, I had enjoyed a brief time in the field of medical research. On December 19, 1996, I was fired from my position as a pharmacist with the KMart Corporation for refusal to dispense Micronor, a progestin-only “minipill”, for the purpose of birth control.

My opinion of this form of birth control was formed 20 years ago, because that is when I became aware of its most prominent mechanism to prevent implantation (as distinguished from a primarily contraceptive mechanism). My instructors in dispensing lab at pharmacy school were made aware of my opinion of this type of birth control, as was the District Manager who hired me to work for KMart. For the seven years that I worked for KMart, I turned away prescriptions for progestin only birth control, more often than not, talking the women out of filling the prescription at all. The Greater Cincinnati Area is a very conservative part of the country, and “minipills” were never very hot sellers here. [Full Text]

Med-school admission committees: tainted by pro-choice bias?

Williard Johnston, M.D.*

Recently, a worried pre-med student called me. A year ago her interview had gone badly, partly because her pro-life views became known to her interviewer, a woman whose pro-choice sentiments have been expressed to me personally in the past. Back for another try, her interview somehow ended up on the same topic.

A few months ago I met a new colleague at my community hospital. He reminded me of a conversation we had had several years ago, when he had phoned me for advice after losing his position at a public health clinic. He  had done well in the job, and was about to be hired permanently, when the non-physician office manager called him in for an “interview” and bluntly exposed his pro-life leanings. “It’s men like you who ruin the lives of  young women,” was her tactful observation. He was informed that he would be given no further sessions at the publicly funded downtown clinic, and was more or less told to pack his bags. Now in private practice not far from me, he still wonders if he did the right thing by accepting this treatment silently.

However, there is a far more basic threat to the ability of physicians to hold pro-life views.[Full text]

Chinese health care workers and the ‘one-child’ policy

Since at least1991, Australia has been faced with Chinese women who apply for refugee status because of China’s ‘one-child policy.’  Senate committee hearings were conducted into the matter. One of the witnesses, who identifed herself by the pseudonym “Dr. Wong”, was heard by the committee in February, 1995, and July, 1999. The following extracts provide some information about the operation of the ‘one-child policy’ and the coercion of health care workers. [Full text]

Freedom of conscience, professional responsibility, and access to abortion

J Law Med Ethics 1994 Fall;22(3):280-5PMID: 7749485

Rebecca S. Dresser

Acess to abortion is becoming increasingly restricted for many women in the United States.  Besides the longstanding financial barriers facing low-income women in most states, a newer source of scar­ city has emerged. The relatively small  number of physicians willing to perform the procedure is compromising the ability of women in  certain parts of the country to obtain an abortion. Do physicians have a duty to respond to this situation? Do they have a professional responsibility  to ensure that abortions are reasonably available to the women who want to terminate their  pregnancies? Or, is abortion so morally and socially controversial as to remove any professional  obligation to provide reasonable access? [Full Text]