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ESHRE News

8 March 2024

The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) statement on the recent Alabama supreme court ruling:

With its recent ruling in the case of LePage v Mobile Infirmary Clinic, the US Alabama Supreme Court decided that a frozen embryo is legally equivalent to a child. This has caused international outrage.

The American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) described the ruling as “medically and scientifically unfounded (1)”; and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) (2) and fertility organisations in other countries (3) have condemned the decision.

ESHRE sees this ruling as wrongly conflating the moral and legal status of embryos with that of existing children.

As an organisation that promotes the provision of fertility treatment and seeks to advance science in this area, ESHRE believes that a frozen embryo is not morally the same as an existing child and, therefore, should not have the same legal status.

Any moves to give embryos this type of legal protection jeopardise the ability of fertility clinics to provide care and solutions to those who cannot conceive and who very much want to have their own family, including patients who may become infertile after cancer. The ruling also has repercussions for provision of reproductive healthcare in other settings.

The Alabama Supreme Court decision is part of a worrying global trend towards according embryos the same status as an existing person, a move that would see reproductive health services reduced significantly for many people.
Therefore, ESHRE adds its voice to the condemnation of this ruling. It hopes that those providing fertility treatment in the US and world-wide can continue to practise without legal restrictions based on ethically, scientifically, and medically unwarranted views on the moral status of the embryo.

References
1. ASRM 2024, ASRM CONDEMNS PROFOUNDLY MISGUIDED AND DANGEROUS COURT DECISION IN ALABAMA, February 18th, 2024. https://www.reproductivefacts.org/news-and-publications/fertility-in-the-news/asrm-condemns-dangerous-court-decision-alabama/
2. ACOG Statement on Alabama Supreme Court IVF Decision, February 21st, 2024. https://www.acog.org/news/news-releases/2024/02/acog-statement-on-alabama-supreme-court-ivf-decision?utm_source=redirect&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=int
3. The Association of Reproductive and Clinical Scientists (UK), ARCS DENOUNCES “DANGEROUS PRECEDENT” COURT DECISION IN ALABAMA. February 23rd, 2024. https://www.arcscientists.org/arcs-denounces-dangerous-precedent-court-decision-in-alabama/

 


 

22 January 2024

Declining global fertility rates and the implications for family planning and family building: an IFFS consensus document based on a narrative review of the literature" published in HRU

Family-planning policies have focused on contraceptive approaches to avoid unintended pregnancies, postpone, or terminate pregnancies and mitigate population growth. These policies have contributed to significantly slowing world population growth. Presently, half the countries worldwide exhibit a fertility rate below replacement level. Not including the effects of migration, many countries are predicted to have a population decline of >50% from 2017 to 2100, causing demographic changes with profound societal implications. Policies that optimize chances to have a child when desired increase fertility rates and are gaining interest as a family-building method. Increasingly, countries have implemented child-friendly policies (mainly financial incentives in addition to public funding of fertility treatment in a limited number of countries) to mitigate decreasing national populations. However, the extent of public spending on child benefits varies greatly from country to country. To our knowledge, this International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS) consensus document represents the first attempt to describe major disparities in access to fertility care in the context of the global trend of decreasing growth in the world population, based on a narrative review of the existing literature.

Read the article in HRU >

 


 

5 January 2024

Elpida Fragouli

Elpida Fragouli

It is with great sadness that Elpida Fragouli passed away after a very short illness due to cancer at the end of December 2023. She has been a key scientist in the field of PGT for over 20 years. Her contribution to the academic and clinical literature has been of global importance.

After obtaining a BSc in Molecular Biology from the University of Surrey, and an MSc in Biochemistry (Genetic Manipulation and Molecular Biology) from the University of Sussex, in 1999 Elpida joined the UCL team led by Joyce Harper and Joy Delhanty to study the MSc in Prenatal Genetics and Fetal Medicine. She stayed on at UCL to do her PhD with the UCL PGD team where she also worked on the PGD programme until 2006.

After enjoying an internship in the USA, she went on to work briefly at University of Connecticut, Yale, and the University of Oxford before joining Reprogenetics where she worked for over 10 years as Laboratory and Scientific Director with Dagan Wells and Santiago Munne. Later, she was a key member of the team that set up Juno Genetics, which rapidly grew to become one of the largest providers of genetic testing services for fertility clinics. She finally returned to academia with Anna Mantzouratou at Bournemouth University as Lecturer and then Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences, as well as serving as a Deputy Head of department.

Elpida achieved an outstanding research and clinical career, publishing over 150 scientific papers. She was responsible for the development and validation of several key PGT techniques. She also looked for biomarkers of embryo competence, identified several target genes with differential expression in cumulus cells surrounding aneuploid oocytes, and the possible role of mitochondrial DNA as a predictor of embryo implantation potential. She had several roles in ESHRE including the Basic Science Officer at ESHRE’s SIG Embryology. She was a member of the editorial boards of Human Reproduction, Fertility and Sterility and RBM Online. She won several awards including the New England Fertility Society-Pacific Coast Reproductive Society Exchange Prize for best submitted abstract (2007), Basic Science Award for oral presentation at ESHRE (2011), and the SART prize for oral presentation at ASRM, (2015).

Elpida will be missed by many of us on a personal level and leaves a huge gap in the field. She leaves behind her young son, Alexander.

Elpida’s funeral will be on 20th January, Wolvercote cemetery, OX2 8EE at 12.30pm.

* From left to right: Elpida Fragouli, Georgia Kakourou, Joyce Harper, and Mara Simopoulou.