Public perceptions on ethics in the practice of assisted reproductive technologies in Nigeria

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Abstract

The rapid expansion of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) services in Nigeria has stimulated public interest in the need to address related ethical issues and the institutionalization of regulatory guidelines to regulate the practice of ART in Nigeria in order to protect patients’ rights and safety. This study aims to document the views of various stakeholders in ART regarding salient ethical issues relating to its practice in Nigeria. The Ethics committee of the Association for Fertility and Reproductive Health in Nigeria (AFRH) organized a focus group discussion with participants drawn from different sociocultural/religious backgrounds and professional disciplines to deliberate on 16 key ethical issues in ART practice. Given the understanding that there are no rights or wrong answers when considering the ethics, the participants reached a consensus that access to ART is a fundamental reproductive right for all members of the society regardless of marital status and that choices made are dependent individual circumstances. There was a noticeable progressive shift in opinions on some issues, compared with a previous study, and a persistent negative view of others within the legal and sociocultural dictates of the Nigerian society especially on issues concerning sex selection and orientation. This study provides updated information on the societal viewpoints and perceptions which could aid the promulgation of ethical practice guidelines for ART practitioners in Nigeria.

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