Should patients be able to travel abroad for treatment?

104px-GEO_GlobeThere’s a really interesting article here asking whether patients should be allowed to travel overseas for fertility treatment to a country which has different rules and regulations from those at home. We just assume that patients have the right to go wherever they want and do whatever they want, but this article is based on a  report in European Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Reproductive Biology which considers the idea that there are moral issues for doctors in supporting patients who want to travel abroad to avoid the laws in their own countries.

Apparently in 2012 the French Health Ministry sent out a warning to doctors that informing patients about egg donation overseas would carry a risk of five years in prison and a fine of 75,000 Euros because of concerns about human eggs being bought and sold – and in Germany and Turkey they have also had penalties for doctors referring patients overseas for certain treatments.

You can find the report itself, from the European Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Reproductive Biology here, which argues that governments should be tolerant to patients who wish to travel for treatment and suggests that their doctors who refer them are trying to act in their best interests. However, the article from Fox News quotes a Japanese health researcher from  Kanazawa University in Japan called Yuri Hibino who says that in Japan some hospitals are so worried by the risks of egg donation abroad, which can include multiple pregnancies and older mothers, that they won’t deliver babies conceived by egg donation.

 

What do you think? Should there be restrictions on treatment overseas? Or would that be a step too far and an interference with personal liberties? And what about doctors who refer patients overseas? It’s certainly an interesting issue…

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