Background: Today in vitro fertilisation (IVF) is a widespread and important technique of reproductive medicine. When the technique was first used, it was considered ethically controversial. This is the first study conducted of adult IVF-offspring in order to learn about their ethical opinions and personal attitudes towards this medical technology.
Methods: We recruited the participants from the first cases of in vitro fertilisation in Germany at the Gynaecological Clinic of the University Hospital Erlangen. Our qualitative interview study consisted of in-depth, face-to-face interviews with 16 adults who had been conceived by IVF. Our data was analysed with methods of Grounded Theory.
Results: For these adults, the most important factor influencing their personal attitudes towards IVF was the knowledge that they were deeply wanted children. The artificiality of their conception seemed irrelevant for their ethical opinion. All participants mentioned that it was important for them to be informed about the circumstances of their conception by their parents.
Conclusions: IVF seems to be a medical technique which, although it affects intimate aspects of human existence, can be integrated into the lives of the affected persons without any great difficulties. The findings suggest that parents should inform their children about their fertilisation at an early age and as part of a process over time, not only on a single occasion. Physicians should advise IVF-parents accordingly.
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Competing interests: None.
SS conceived the study, planned the interviews, conducted the field work, analysed and interpreted the data. He wrote the article and saw and approved the final version.
DD helped in acquisition of data and contacting the families. He commented on a draft of the article. He saw and approved the final version.
JV designed and supervised the study and helped analyse the data. He wrote the article and saw and approved the final version.
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