Informed Consent and Fresh Egg Donation for Stem Cell Research: Incorporating Embodied Knowledge Into Ethical Decision-Making

Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 9 (1):29-39 (2012)
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Abstract

This article develops a model of informed consent for fresh oöcyte donation for stem cell research, during in vitro fertilisation (IVF), by building on the importance of patients’ embodied experience. Informed consent typically focuses on the disclosure of material information. Yet this approach does not incorporate the embodied knowledge that patients acquire through lived experience. Drawing on interview data from 35 patients and health professionals in an IVF clinic in Australia, our study demonstrates the uncertainty of IVF treatment, and the tendency for patients to overestimate their chances of success prior to the experience of treatment. Once in active treatment, however, patients identify their oöcytes as both precious and precarious. We argue that it is necessary to formally include embodied experience as a source of knowledge in informed consent procedures, both for gratuitous donation and for egg-sharing regimes. We recommend that at least one full cycle of IVF be completed before approaching women to divert eggs away from their own fertility treatment

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