The New York Times posted an article today on the complications that often result from fertility treatments. Under current fertility treatment practices, patients are likely to implant multiple embryos, which leads to an increased risk of twins, premature babies, and other serious complications. The estimated expense of caring for premature babies that were conceived through IVF was $1 billion last year, with the bulk of that expense being passed on to businesses and other consumers. In cases where children suffer disability, society pays further costs in the form of services like special education.
This problem poses a number of difficult ethical questions about our reproductive rights and the costs of healthcare, but what interests me that most is that the article doesn’t seem to address at least one obvious way of reducing this problem. While some couples need fertility treatments, and surely they offer wonderful benefits to those who do, other women need fertility treatments because they feel a need to postpone pregnancy. This post is not designed to be critical of anyones choices, but given the immense cost associated with fertility treatments that we are all indirectly paying, can we make an argument that perhaps economically we would be better off creating a society where young women lucky enough to be in the position to have children could do so at a biologically optimal time without fear of derailing their professional pursuits?