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Clinical ethics
Process and consensus: ethical decision-making in the infertility clinic—a qualitative study
  1. L Frith
  1. Correspondence to Dr L Frith, Division of Primary Care, University of Liverpool, School of Population, Community and Behavioural Sciences, The Whelan Building, Brownlow Hill, Liverpool L69 3GB, UK; frith{at}


Infertility treatment is a speciality that has attracted considerable attention both from the public and bioethicists. The focus of this attention has mainly been on the dramatic dilemmas created by theses technologies. Relatively little is known, however, about how clinicians approach and resolve ethical issues on an everyday basis. The central aim of this study is to gain insight into these neglected aspects of practice. It was found that, for the clinicians, the process by which ethical decisions were made was of key importance. It will be argued that this focus on the process of decision-making is more than just empty proceduralism but is based on and facilitates certain substantive ethical principles. In conclusion, suggestions as to how ethical decision-making processes can be supported and improved in infertility practice will be made.

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  • Additional supplementary data are published online only at

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval The study received ethics committee approval from the regional Multicentre Research Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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