Regulatory responses to assisted reproductive technology: a comparative analysis of Spain and Israel

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Purpose: The market of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) is rapidly evolving, raising growing ethical and social dilemmas. This paper compares the regulatory responses to technological and market developments in Israel and Spain, both intensive users of ART. We identify strengths and deficiencies in the regulation of ART in these two countries. Methods: We developed a conceptual framework to classify the factors affecting regulations and priority setting, and applied it using a Delphi survey combined with in-depth interviews. We selected two panels of experts from various fields, trying to simulate the bioethics committees of Israel and Spain. Results: ART is often wrongfully perceived as a solution to age-related infertility. Both panels embraced alternative solutions. The impact of private commercial interest on regulations is resulting in excessive practices such as the repeat of ineffective cycles and the push of sometimes unnecessary treatment add-ons. Our findings show experts dissatisfaction with the regulations of donor-eggs concerning reimbursement and registries in both countries. Conclusions: The adequacy of ART to solve age-related infertility should be confronted with alternative approaches, with emphasis on the distribution of accurate information. The magnitude of ART markets, particularly the use of donor-eggs, should raise the need for additional societal debate and the reform of regulations. The impact factors analysis leads us to question the current regulatory framework, which could be improved by nominating a non-governmental statutory central regulatory agency in Israel and by reforming the Spanish agency. © 2019, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.