The Fate of Unused Embryos: Discourses, Action Possibilities, and Subject Positions.

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Abstract

Although in vitro fertilization (IVF) has offered hope to those struggling with infertility, it has also had some unintended consequences, including the fate of embryos that may be "surplus" to requirement following IVF treatment. The number of embryos in storage across the world is high, creating a dilemma for patients who need to make disposal decisions, as well as presenting an administrative and practical dilemma for clinics. Research has suggested that patients' views of the status of their embryo/s may affect their disposal decisions, and yet the nature of the links between views of the embryo and decisions to either donate or discard remain unclear. In this article, we engage in a discursive analysis of literature on disposal decisions. We discuss the range of ways in which embryos may be constructed, and demonstrate how these discourses make available or constrain particular action possibilities, and offer particular subject positions for patients. The analysis highlights the complexity of the relationship between embryo status and decision making, and may assist clinicians in supporting and guiding patients' decisions.

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