The Current

The ethics of uterus transplants & doctor-assisted pregnancy

Doctors in Turkey have implanted a frozen embryo in a woman with a transplanted uterus. We're looking at the cutting edge medicine and the ethical dilemmas that come with it.
Turkish doctors made history yesterday when an embryo was implanted into a transplanted womb. Uterus Transplants are very new and doctors in Turkey and Sweden have plans for many more. But medical ethicists have many questions. Today, as part of our project Line in the Sand: Dilemmas that Define Us, we confront the latest offering of reproductive technology. 

Gynecologist, Liza Johanneson

Yesterday, Doctor Münire Akar made history. She implanted a frozen embryo into a women with a transplanted uterus. Uterus transplants are very new ... so new that those women who have received them are still in in the stages of trying to make sure their bodies don't reject them. So this is the first time doctors have tried to impregnate a woman with a transplanted uterus. Doctor Akar says it's the result of a lot of earlier work.

In Sweden, researchers are also being patient and watching the medical procedures closely. Liza Johanneson is a gynecologist at the University of Gothenberg in Sweden. She has worked on uterus transplants in animals for 15 years. And she is now working on a pilot project to test uterus transplants in humans. Liza Johanneson was in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Dr. Jacques Balayla, University of Montreal

Now, there are no current plans to carry out such a transplant in Canada, according to Jacques Balayla, a doctor at the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Montreal. He was the primary investigator on something called The Montreal Criteria for the Ethical Feasibility of Uterine Transplantation. It's a 2012 paper that has helped guide the international standards for the surgery.

Panel: Arthur Caplan / Arthur Schafer

The possibility of a uterus transplant has given hope to some women who want to carry their babies themselves. But this level of medical intervention raises a host of ethical questions. We're going to explore those this morning as part of our project Line in The Sand, Dilemmas that Define Us.

Arthur Caplan is a medical ethicist at New York University's Langone Medical Centre. He was in Indianapolis. Arthur Schafer is a Director at University of Manitoba's Centre for Professional Applied Ethics. He was in Winnipeg.

This segment was produced by The Current's Pacinthe Mattar, Sujata Berry, Shannon Higgins and Farrah Richardson.

To add your voice to anything you hear on The Current, tweet us @thecurrentcbc or find us on Facebook. You can e-mail us from our website where you can also download the podcast and check out lots of interesting background and photos about what we've been covering. Or call us toll-free, the number is 1 877 287 7366. Or send us a postcard. Box 500, Station A, Toronto, M5W 1E6.

Last Word - Perfume Promo

We ended the program today with a taste of something The Current's Liz Hoath is working on ... a story she was somewhat surprised to find herself pursuing. It is based on new EU rules that will drastically change the face of the perfume industry.

Other segments from today's show:

Could an accidental war between N. Korea & S. Korea/U.S break out?

What women can teach the Church


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?