Research with Pregnant Women: New Insights on Legal Decision‐Making

Hastings Center Report 47 (3):38-45 (2017)
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U.S. researchers and scholars often point to two legal factors as significant obstacles to the inclusion of pregnant women in clinical research: the Department of Health and Human Services’ regulatory limitations specific to pregnant women's research participation and the fear of liability for potential harm to children born following a pregnant woman's research participation. This article offers a more nuanced view of the potential legal complexities that can impede research with pregnant women than has previously been reflected in the literature. It reveals new insights into the role of legal professionals throughout the research pathway, from product conception to market, and it highlights a variety of legal factors influencing decision-making that may slow or halt research involving pregnant women. Our conclusion is that closing the evidence gap created by the underrepresentation and exclusion of pregnant women in research will require targeted attention to the role of legal professionals and the legal factors that influence their decisions.



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