Who gets turned away from ART?

April 1, 2005

The majority of assisted reproductive technology (ART) program directors believe they have a responsibility to set selection criteria and screen infertile couples to ensure the safety and welfare of mother and child.

The majority of assisted reproductive technology (ART) program directors believe they have a responsibility to set selection criteria and screen infertile couples to ensure the safety and welfare of mother and child. But because most programs (72%) do not have a formal screening policy in place, they set their own screening guidelines-which vary widely across programs-according to a study in Fertility and Sterility (1/05).

When it comes to screening candidates, all 210 ART program directors who responded to an anonymous, self-administered questionnaire screened for physical health and age. Most programs collected information on drug use (98%), marital status (95%), HIV status (92%), and mental health (89%). A minority of programs considered religion (34%), criminal history (17%), and a home visit or evaluation (1%) in screening candidates.

When presented with hypothetical scenarios of possible candidates for ART and asked how likely respondents would be to turn away the candidates, the study's researchers found much variability across programs. For example, 46% of respondents said they would not likely turn away a couple on welfare, but 38% said they would be very or extremely likely to reject the couple. Similarly, 33% of respondents said they would not likely turn away a woman addicted to marijuana, but 47% said they would turn the woman away.