by astorinoa on April 2, 2015 - 5:05pm
In virto fertilization is performed when a couple who are attempting to have children but are incapable turn to seek professional help. This help entails fertility doctors removing an egg or several eggs from the woman. They are later fertilized and grow “in virto” (in glass) for a few days. After being successfully fertilized and developing in virto the embryos are then placed back into the woman where the pregnancy continues as normally. The problem with in virto fertilization arises with the leftover eggs. Some eggs are not fertilized and which are saved for woman whose eggs are infertile. This issue however is with the eggs that were successfully fertilized and an embryo successfully developed. The eggs are then stored in a fridge. As the other fertile eggs some are placed in infertile woman. Others eggs are stored in the fridges, some doctors and others debate that these eggs should be used to research stem cell research. Many illnesses and diseases could be cured if these stem cells were to be research using these “leftover” embryos. On the other hand there are those who are completed opposed to the idea of conducting research on these embryos. Religious communities and other viewed these embryos as a living life since it is to their belief that life begins at conception. Conducting research would be viewed as ending a life which several view as too costing for the advancement of medicine.
The media portrays a mixed opinion on in virto fertilization. Janet Rowley, a writer of the US News argues that the benefits from in virto fertilization could potentially rep too many benefits than have a negative impact. Rowley says that the cell mutations in patients with illnesses such as juvenile diabetes, Parkinson's, and muscular dystrophy would be better understood and if scientists would receive government funding they would be able to research ways to treat these diseases (Rowland). The articles mentions how will such limited access and with only support from philanthropic organizations scientists were able to develop cell lines. A technique used is the scientists turn adult cells into extremely similarly in composition embryonic cells. Scientists have to avoid directly working on the cells and are forced to take different routes trying to obtain a result. If scientists were given permission to work on the cells as opposed to substitutes then advancements would occur more often and be more efficient.
There are also those quite against stem cell research. The American Academy of Physical Rehabilitation and Medicine main opposition against stem cell research is the differing opinion of where life begins. They also continue to say that just researching on these embryonic cells would not suffice in providing immediate results. This makes the sacrifices made for research for nothing (AAPR&M).
The representation of in virto fertilization is a sensitive subject for all. One known representation where in virto fertilization takes a main plot point in a television series is Friends. In a particular episode of Friends one of the main characters, Phoebe offers to be a surrogate for her brother. Phoebe's main concern is the extremely low success rate of in virto fertilization. In the episode the proposed success rate was 25%. Since the show is a sitcom this sub-plot was mixed in with other comedic plots. In the end the success of the pregnancy raised the mood of all the characters of the episode. The episode did portray the character's concern for the low chances and that she cannot help increase these chances. The show did convey how low the chances are for in virto fertilization and the risks associated with it. The show also conveys how no matter what is done you cannot have an influence on increasing the chances of success. The episode does not however show the other fertilized eggs in storage and does not mention or bring rise what occurs to these embryos which are not used in the fertilization process.
All this representation of in virto fertilization leads us to ask whether it is represented in media in an ethical way? There are several media outlets and news articles written such as those cited above that demonstrated one sided arguments of in virto fertilization and stem cell research. As a widely discussed topic the majority of articles perfectly describe the positive outcomes or the negative outcomes that are associated with it.
"AAPM&R - American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation." Opposition to Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research. N.p., n.d. Web.
Rowley, Janet. "Embryonic Stem Cell Research Does Too Much Good to Be Evil, Says Janet Rowley." U.S. News. N.p., 23 Mar. 2009. Web.