Welcome to the world of reproductive technology.
Many people experience the human desire to build a family, but can't do so naturally. The reality is approximately one in eight Canadian couples face challenges with infertility. Most of us know at least one person or couple who cannot have children, struggled to have children, or face medical or health issues that make child-bearing difficult or impossible.
Assisted human reproduction is a broad spectrum of medically assisted fertility solutions and treatments that continues to grow and expand with increasing technological and scientific developments. Some of the most common assisted human reproductive technologies include ovulation induction, artificial insemination, in-vitro fertilization, donor conception, and surrogacy. There are also some more holistic approaches such as fertility acupuncture, Chinese medicine and herb use, vitamin therapies, and other therapeutic or naturopathic aids. This article will focus on the scientific and legal inter-plays.
The concept of how family is created has evolved with technology, and will continue to do so with more exciting developments on the horizon with the use of artificial intelligence (AI):
- A Canadian startup company, Future Fertility, is using a new AI technology, Violet, to better predict the success of outcomes for patients undergoing elective egg freezing. Violet is now being offered in Vancouver, BC.
- An Israeli startup company, Embryonics, is testing AI called Ubar to improve the odds of successfully implanting an embryo during in-vitro fertilization. An ongoing clinical study at the Nadiya Clinic of Reproductive Medicine in Kyiv, Ukraine has reported its first six pregnancies while five other participants are awaiting test results. Beyond embryo selection, it is also using this technology to create personalized hormonal treatments for IVF patients and other solutions such as recommending which eggs to preserve.
- PGT-A is a complex process that requires the extraction of a few cells from the outer layer of each embryo. A new technology is being developed and tested that uses AI to non-invasively analyze embryos and determine whether they are euploid (have a balanced number of chromosomes) or aneuploidy (have an abnormal number of chromosomes). This new AI technology also showed a 32% improvement in the prediction of successful implantation.
The above AI technology, together with more women considering technology-aided pregnancy and freezing their eggs as a result of the pandemic, leads to interesting legal questions about the expansion of fertility law, and further solidifies the fact that baby-making is an ever-growing science.
If you are considering reproductive technology as an intended parent, AI fertility, donor ova/sperm, or surrogacy, a fertility lawyer will you help navigate this process, and ensure that you understand your rights and obligations.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.