Who gets the gametes? An argument for a points system for fertility patients

Bioethics 32 (1):16-26 (2017)
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This paper argues that the convention of allocating donated gametes on a ‘first come, first served’ basis should be replaced with an allocation system that takes into account more morally relevant criteria than waiting time. This conclusion was developed using an empirical bioethics methodology, which involved a study of the views of 18 staff members from seven U.K. fertility clinics, and 20 academics, policy-makers, representatives of patient groups, and other relevant professionals, on the allocation of donated sperm and eggs. Against these views, we consider some nuanced ways of including criteria in a points allocation system. We argue that such a system is more ethically robust than ‘first come, first served’, but we acknowledge that our results suggest that a points system will meet with resistance from those working in the field. We conclude that criteria such as a patient's age, potentially damaging substance use, and parental status should be used to allocate points and determine which patients receive treatment and in what order. These and other factors should be applied according to how they bear on considerations like child welfare, patient welfare, and the effectiveness of the proposed treatment.



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