The ethics of intercountry adoption: Why it matters to healthcare providers and bioethicists

Bioethics 24 (7):358-364 (2010)
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The goal of this paper is both modest and ambitious. The modest goal is to show that intercountry adoption should be considered by ethicists and healthcare providers. The more ambitious goal is to introduce the many ethical issues that intercountry adoption raises. Intercountry adoption is an alternative to medical, assisted reproduction option such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), intracytoplasmic sperm injection, third party egg and sperm donation and surrogacy. Health care providers working with assisted reproduction are in a unique position to introduce their clients to intercountry adoption; however, providers should only do so if intercountry adoption is ethically equal or superior to the alternatives. This paper first presents a brief history of intercountry adoption. The second section compares intercountry adoption with medical alternatives. The third section examines the unique ethical challenges that are not shared by other medical alternatives. The final section concludes that it is simplistic for a healthcare provider to promote intercountry adoption unconditionally; however, in situation where intercountry adoption is practiced conscientiously it poses no greater ethical concern than several medical alternatives. This conclusion is preliminary and is intended as a start for further discussion.



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Sarah Jones
Texas Tech University

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