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Biotechnology Policy across National Boundaries: The by Darrell M. West (auth.)

By Darrell M. West (auth.)

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4 Infertility varies by specific country. In Great Britain, for example, it is estimated that 10 percent of women are infertile, while in some African nations, the number runs as high as 30 percent. 5 In postindustrial societies, fertility problems arise when couples delay childbearing until later years. Infertility rises with age so the decision to defer children increases the difficulty of getting pregnant. 6 Treatments vary by individual need, but the most common approaches include injecting sperm into an egg, transferring a IN VITRO FERTILIZATION AND ASSISTED REPRODUCTIVE TECHNOLOGY 33 donor egg, embryo freezing, assisted hatching, sperm storage, artificial insemination, or drug therapies to stimulate egg production.

Kitts represents a place that has established itself as friendly to researchers. One of the hot topics for the biotech industry has been implanting stem cells from one species into another as a way to model health consequences. Called “chimeras” (or new cross-species organisms named after the mythic Greek creature), these experiments are controversial in some countries. St. Kitts has a burgeoning industry based on chimera experimentation. It is attractive for chimera research because monkeys are in abundant supply there and the government imposes few rules on scientists.

Rather than restricting private decision making, most nations allow patients and medical personnel the freedom to make their own decisions on fertility treatment. Governments impose few restrictions on the choices of married couples and trust medical personnel to define ethical practices. The most serious limits on access are personal and financial, rather than political or legal. The major exceptions to this rule are the predominantly Catholic countries of Italy and Ireland, and the special case of Germany following World War II.

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