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The role of anticipated decision regret and the patient's best interest in sterilisation and medically assisted reproduction
  1. Heidi Mertes
  1. Correspondence to Dr Heidi Mertes, Bioethics Institute Ghent, Ghent University, Blandijnberg 2, Gent 9000, Belgium; Heidi.Mertes{at}


There is a clear discrepancy in the way those who request medical assistance in pursuit of their reproductive choices are treated. On the one hand, women who request a sterilisation are urged to consider possible future regrets and are sometimes refused treatment in anticipation of such regrets. This is despite the fact that for all age ranges, the majority of women undergoing a sterilisation do not regret the decision. Moreover, women who are voluntarily childless are likely to have a happier and more gratifying life than parents. On the other hand, women who request fertility treatment are not urged to second guess their desire for parenthood. Although the fact that the probability of regret is expected to be higher in the former case than in the latter justifies this difference in treatment to a certain extent, the gap between the two different approaches is wider than it ought to be if we also take future well-being into consideration, instead of focussing exclusively on anticipated decision regret.

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Sterilization

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  • Contributors HM conceived, drafted, revised and submitted this manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

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

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