Science does have its benefits in improving the way we live as human beings. Compare the way people lived during, say, a century ago, and you can see how people then viewed others as being “old” during their 40s, and expecting them to die once they reach 60. Obviously, the advances in the different fields of science have changed much in our collective life expectancy as a people; after all, aren’t the “baby boomer” demographic still a viable geopolitical and cultural force in some of our countries?
However, there may be some contributions of science that is still being disputed among advocates up to this day. Consider, for example, stem cell research and cloning; those issues have been around as long as forty years ago, but there’s still no chance that it can be resolved anytime soon. Of course, one of the common “hot button” issues that still revolve around the policymakers’ rooms is the issue of assisted reproductive technology.
You may not be immediately familiar with assisted reproductive technology (ART), but at least you must have heard of some of its more “famous” procedures, like in vitro fertilization, for example. Assisted reproductive technology is in fact a catchall term for any medical treatment or procedure that involves the manipulation of the egg and sperm in treating infertility. Some of the processes may include the administration of drugs to induce ovulation, fertilization, gamete intrafallopian transfer, zygote intrafallopian transfer, and the cryopreservation of gametes, just to mention among some examples.
So why is ART such a big issue among some countries, particularly the “developed” states? It is just a matter of looking at a bigger picture: currently, the worldwide figure for infertility rates stand at one infertile couple out of seven.
- In the United States, the statistics of infertile couples stand at a staggeringly significant six million of the total population. Despite some of these countries problems with overpopulation, this infertility problem still can’t be discounted by just about anyone.
- It is a complex physical problem, and its causes are usually related to azoospermia (lack of sperm in the semen), anovulation (the failure of the ovaries to produce, mature, or release eggs), or tubal obstruction, which pertains to an egg being hindered on its implantation inside the uterine tubes.
- Obviously, with technology this sophisticated, you can naturally expect the costs to somewhat reflect the “effectiveness” of the treatment.
- For example, since in vitro fertilization has a 40% chance of causing pregnancy on a woman, the couple can expect that the total procedure would cost them about $12,000, on an average. Now, try to compare that with some pharmacologic therapies like clomiphene that can stimulate the ovulation of a woman, which costs between $200 to $500 between “cycles”; the reason why it costs lower is because it only has an 8% chance of causing pregnancy in a woman.
- Obviously, ART is still an issue of contention among different sectors of the society. For one, a recently developed procedure like pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) even allows for potential parents to determine the sex of their babies and to be able to “highlight” certain genetic traits that may be of use to either parent or to a potential sibling in the future (thus, some have coined the potential offspring that has sprung from a PGD procedure a “designer baby”).
- Some parties feel that these calls for too much “commoditization” of human beings and that those ethical lines are being crossed just to gain a profit. But some proponents on the “other side” also argue that the resulting offspring from ART is still subject to the care of his/her parents, so blaming science for whatever outcome may happen from ART is erroneous.
Obviously, this is still a really “early” discovery to properly weigh the pros and cons of ART. Only time can tell if those offspring which have been the “product” of assisted reproductive technology can properly function as normal and healthy adults in the future.
Dr. Amarendra currently writes for eDrugstore.MD, an online facilitator for Viagra, Cialis and Levitra online. Dr. Amarendra uses his research skills and extensive professional contacts to compile an informative Expert Podcast Interviews Section