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The topics of genetic counseling and the treatment of infertility are related in several ways. First, both arise from a patient's desire to have a child. Second, infertility treatments ranging from artificial insemination (AI) to in vitro fertilization and embryo transplantation are increasingly seen as alternatives for couples who are at high risk for genetic disease. Third, improper genetic counseling and negligent fertility treatment share the common risk of the birth of an injured child.

Perhaps most important, genetic counseling and fertility treatment medicalize one of the central mysteries of life. Whether it is the traditional bans on AI as adultery or fears that in vitro fertilization will result in the discarding of embryos, this area of medical practice is complicated by cultural and religious taboos. The goal of this chapter is to present the issues that every physician providing family medical care or obstetric services should consider in routine practice. Specialists in fertility practice and physicians who are involved in any way with surrogacy transactions should seek personal legal counsel on these matters.

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