Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT) Ethical Issues

If you're considering gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) to help you conceive, you may be wondering what kind of ethical issues you may face by choosing to have a child with the assistance of this fertility treatment. Read on to learn more about how GIFT stands in the debate over ethical conception:

Conception with Human Assistance

Like all fertility treatments, gamete intrafallopian transfer may stir some ethical debate over the fact that conception is only possible with human assistance. If you object to this due to spiritual reasons, you must consider where you will draw the line over what's acceptable, and instead pursue fertility assistance via less invasive medications or hormones (or perhaps consider adoption instead). There are few fertility procedures that require less human intervention in the conception process than GIFT, so your options may be limited if you feel strongly about this objection.

Understanding that GIFT Is Physically More Invasive

During the process of gamete intrafallopian transfer, your fertility specialist will have to make a small incision in your abdomen through which to make an implantation into your fallopian tubes laparoscopically. This is more invasive than in vitro fertilization (IVF), in which your specialist makes an implantation into your uterus through the vagina without making incisions. GIFT is as equally invasive as zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT), where the implantation is made into your fallopian tubes via your abdomen, but there is a big difference that may make GIFT the less objectionable choice.

GIFT Is Debatably More Ethical

If gamete intrafallopian transfer is physically more invasive than other options and less successful (IVF has a 31% success rate, ZIFT has a 29.2% success rate and GIFT has a 24.5% success rate), you may be wondering why women and couples select this option. They do so because it may be less ethically objectionable than similar treatments such as IVF and ZIFT.

During both IVF and ZIFT, your fertility specialist will fertilize your eggs with sperm in a laboratory. The specialist will then select the fertilized eggs that seem most likely to succeed and implant multiple eggs at once into your body, with the understanding that only the strongest egg will survive the process. (This is, however, why IVF and ZIFT have a much higher rate of multiple births than GIFT; if you become pregnant with too many children for your body to healthily support, this opens up the debate over partial abortion.) The leftover fertilized eggs not implanted, are then either frozen or discarded.

GIFT does not entail any fertilization under the guidance of a fertility specialist. Instead, your fertility specialist will harvest multiple eggs and immediately mix them with the sperm. Without waiting for the eggs to become fertilized, your specialist will then implant the mixture into your fallopian tubes--where fertilization usually takes place in the natural cycle--and wait for fertilization to take place inside your body. This explains the lower success rate, but it also makes the process less ethically invasive, as fertilization is not performed under a human's hands.

Gamete intrafallopian transfer is actually not as ethically objectionable as other fertility treatments, which is why so many women and couples choose GIFT over slightly less invasive and more successful procedures that are more ethically objectionable. While the ethicality of all fertility treatments are subject to debate, you may find it difficult or impossible to conceive without some assistance.