Issues around Infertility Treatment Suspension during COVID-19 Pandemic; from the Viewpoint of Public Health Ethics

Rina Yamauchi, Nanako Endo, Yujin Tsukahara
Volume 3 Issue 1 Pages 1-17
First Published: October 8, 2020



In March 2020, in response to the rapid escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) published a guideline that recommended the suspension of all non-urgent infertility care cycles during the pandemic, which created a major controversy around the country. Following the organization of Fertility Providers Alliance (FPA) and a signature-collecting campaign led by patients and healthcare providers, ASRM released several updates of the guideline, which amended some of its former explanations. By analyzing the transition of these guidelines, this paper comes to grips with some of the points necessary to consider regarding fertility treatment suspension in an emergency, such as time sensitivity; public essentiality of the treatment; respect for patient’s autonomy; mitigation of the risk for patients and healthcare providers; and equality of distribution of medical resources. Also, the paper argues that when an expert organization sends a message in an emergency, it is required to consider how patients would receive it, showing solidarity with them who are amidst the difficult situations. Finally, it draws out several suggestions for Japanese society such as the necessities of flexibility and appropriate risk communication, as Japan may experience similar situations in possibly forthcoming second and third waves of the pandemic.


Key words

COVID-19, Infertility Treatment, ASRM, Public Health Ethics