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Fertility Treatments May Change

April 29, 1998

NEW YORK (AP) _ A state panel with national influence is recommending dramatic changes in fertility treatments, including more steps to reduce multiple births, The New York Times reported today.

The New York State Task Force on Life and the Law, part of the state Health Department, says that doctors should avoid infertility treatments that produce so-called high-order pregnancies _ those of three or more babies who are prone to problems like retardation and blindness.

In a report to be issued today, the panel said many women are not adequately informed about the risks of fertility treatment. It also said couples often aren’t told in advance about costs and infertility treatments’ usually low success rates.

Independent experts praised the panel’s recommendations and predicted they would become a national model.

The 24-member panel consists of doctors, lawyers, ethicists, and clergy. Its decisions aren’t binding even in New York, but some of its recommendations _ on topics such as life support and organ transplants _ have been the basis for state laws and U.S. Supreme Court decisions.

State health commissioner Dr. Barbara DeBuono told the Times she would implement the recommendations as soon as possible. They include:

_ Establishing the woman who gives birth as the child’s legal mother, even if the child was conceived by a donated egg.

_ Requiring doctors to tell women if procedures are experimental.

_ Not discriminating against unmarried couples, including lesbians.

Infertility affects 7.1 percent of married couples with women of child-bearing age, the Times said. That does not include 5.8 percent of married couples who have trouble conceiving or carrying a pregnancy to term.

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