Rethinking Consent, Information Giving and Counselling Concerning Stored Embryos in IVF treatment

Lawbook Co
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Law and Medicine, 2013, 20 (4), pp. 759 - 772
Issue Date:
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This article presents findings on consent practices drawn from a larger research project about the impact of law, ethical guidelines and clinical policies and practices upon the decisions that people make about their stored embryos created during IVF. In exploring the process of decision-making about stored embryos, participants reflected upon their earlier experiences of clinic information-giving and counselling, particularly at the outset of treatment. The study found that the type and timing of the information given and the range of options presented by clinics in typical consent processes did not meet many participants needs. Informed consent processes in IVF involving the storage of embryos require a number of key changes. Consent to treatment and subsequent decisions about storage and further outcomes for stored embryos need to be addressed separately. To be effective, embryo directive forms should be accompanied by plain language explanations of their legal effects, including what elements are binding, the source of the rules governing decisions, and available formal and informal dispute resolution avenues. Consent and embryo directive forms should be made available on clinic websites to allow greater opportunity for reflection, as well as enabling patients to compare the options available at each clinic. Greater availability of ongoing counselling as well as other external sources of information are crucial to enable informed decision-making.
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