A legal-ethical analysis of reproductive endocrinologists' right to refuse ovulation induction to patients with diminished ovarian reserve

Fethiye Sinem Karipcin, Amjad Hossain, John Y. Phelps

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Purpose: Review of the legal and ethical basis for reproductive endocrinologists to refuse ovulation induction to patients with diminished ovarian reserve. Methods: The Lexis-Nexis search engine was used to perform a legal review pertaining to refusal of treatment. Ethical opinions of medical organizations were also reviewed. Results: Federal antidiscrimination laws provide legal recourse for patients with diminished ovarian reserve who are denied ovulation induction. However, the same laws also permit refusal of care when there is bona fide medical justification to decline services. In addition, the codes of ethics for relevant professional organizations support physicians' decisions to refuse treatment when treatment is futile. Conclusion: Although it is ethically and legally permissible to deny ovulation induction to patients with diminished ovarian reserve when medically justified, refusal may invite retaliatory litigation. Counseling remains a cornerstone in directing these patients to options with more potential for success, such as donor eggs and adoption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1105-1109
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2011



  • Diminished ovarian reserve
  • Discrimination
  • Ethics
  • Liability
  • Ovulation induction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Genetics
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Genetics(clinical)

Cite this