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      Assisted reproductive technologies and the right to reproduce under South African law

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          Reproductive rights in South Africa have traditionally focused on the rights of individuals to avoid reproduction. However, with an increase in the use of assisted reproductive technologies (ART), there has been a shift in the focus on reproductive rights from the rights of individuals to avoid reproduction to the rights of individuals to reproduce noncoitally. With the emergence of new technologies, reproduction by noncoital means and the right to engage in these new technologies is becoming more prevalent. This raises two questions. The first question is whether such a right exists. The recent Constitutional Court decision in AB v Minister of Social Development 2017 3 BCLR 267 (CC) suggests that it does, but only if the person claiming this right is physically involved in the reproductive process. Ostensibly this excludes those who cannot contribute to the reproduction of a child. The second question raised pertains to the impact of this right on specific forms of ART, namely mitochondrial transfer, posthumous reproduction and embryo donation. While the first two forms of ART would meet the criteria set down in AB, embryo donation would not. Individuals denied access to embryo donation could thus not rely on either the right to reproductive autonomy or the right to privacy to aid them. Fortunately the existing legal framework provides some assistance to these individuals, although sadly the same legislative framework does not support the use of mitochondrial transfer and posthumous reproduction. In this respect there is incongruence between rights and legislation, which has only been exacerbated by the recent Constitutional Court decision. What is thus needed is clarity on the meaning of certain rights in respect of certain forms of ART as well as legislative reform to reflect the clarified position.

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          Most cited references 65

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          The International Committee for Monitoring Assisted Reproductive Technology (ICMART) and the World Health Organization (WHO) Revised Glossary on ART Terminology, 2009.

          Many definitions used in medically assisted reproduction (MAR) vary in different settings, making it difficult to standardize and compare procedures in different countries and regions. With the expansion of infertility interventions worldwide, including lower resource settings, the importance and value of a common nomenclature is critical. The objective is to develop an internationally accepted and continually updated set of definitions, which would be utilized to standardize and harmonize international data collection, and to assist in monitoring the availability, efficacy, and safety of assisted reproductive technology (ART) being practiced worldwide. Seventy-two clinicians, basic scientists, epidemiologists and social scientists gathered together at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland in December, 2008. Several months in advance, three working groups were established which were responsible for terminology in three specific areas: clinical conditions and procedures, laboratory procedures and outcome measures. Each group reviewed the existing ICMART glossary, made recommendations for revisions and introduced new terms to be considered for glossary expansion. A consensus was reached on 87 terms, expanding the original glossary by 34 terms, which included definitions for numerous clinical and laboratory procedures. Special emphasis was placed in describing outcome measures such as cumulative delivery rates and other markers of safety and efficacy in ART. Standardized terminology should assist in analysis of worldwide trends in MAR interventions and in the comparison of ART outcomes across countries and regions. This glossary will contribute to a more standardized communication among professionals responsible for ART practice, as well as those responsible for national, regional and international registries.
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            Social and ethical issues in mitochondrial donation.

            The UK is at the forefront of mitochondrial science and is currently the only country in the world to legalize germ-line technologies involving mitochondrial donation. However, concerns have been raised about genetic modification and the 'slippery slope' to designer babies.
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              Human Rights and Reproductive Choice


                Author and article information

                Role: ND
                PER: Potchefstroomse Elektroniese Regsblad
                Publication of North-West University (Potchefstroom Campus) (Potchefstroom, North-West Province, South Africa )
                : 20
                : 1
                : 1-31
                orgnameUniversity of the Western Cape South Africa cavanniekerk@

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