Viewpoint: Why assisted reproduction needs to be more comprehensively regulated

Credit: Zac Freeland/Vox
Credit: Zac Freeland/Vox

The United States fertility market is growing very rapidly, and is projected to reach $15.4 billion in 2023, more than double what it was in 2017… Yet the sector remains curiously under-regulated, despite many calls to confront the numerous known issues, including health risks, financial exploitation, and repeated scandals in which doctors have surreptitiously used their own sperm.

[According to a 2018 report by the CDC and SART,] the industry reported 54,069 “transfers” (attempts to initiate pregnancies with embryos created in vitro) for women under 35; only 48.8% resulted in a live birth. The percentages fall in each higher age group; at 41-42, chances of a live birth are down to 26.6% and at 43 or older, 12.0%.

In short, most attempts at using ART fail.

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[Concerningly, out of 456 clinics analyzed] 43 clinics did not report [data], of which 26 are still in operation, but none of them appear to be subject to any penalty. That’s how little oversight the assisted reproduction industry gets away with.

For assisted reproduction, the US is regularly described as the “Wild West.” It’s past time for regulators to step in, and turn advice into legislation.

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