Skip navigation
Scholarly Communication

Ethics in the infertility clinic: a qualitative study

Frith, Lucy (2008) Ethics in the infertility clinic: a qualitative study. Doctoral thesis, University of Liverpool.

PDF - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives.



This thesis is a qualitative study of infertility clinicians in the UK, exploring how they manage ethical issues: a study that uses empirical methods to explore ethical questions. I use a broadly Aristotelian conception of the relationship between theory and practice to develop a methodology for considering practical ethical issues. I then show how this approach, when allied with contemporary qualitative methodologies, can provide particularly valuable insights and produce practical recommendations. An important element of my approach is that a close attention to actual practice can also result in refining and developing our ethical theories and principles – practice informs theory just as theory can inform practice. This account of the ethical decision-making processes of infertility clinicians can not only highlight new ethical problems, but also develop more nuanced moral norms and ethical theories to deal with the conflicts and issues that arise in the clinical setting. Infertility treatment is a speciality that has attracted much attention from the public and bioethicists. The focus has been predominately on the dramatic aspects such as the status of the embryo or underlying issues such as the ethical boundaries of procreative liberty. Relatively little, however, is known about the everyday moral workings of infertility clinics: how clinicians approach ethical issues on a daily basis; what for them are troubling issues; and how they resolve ethical conflict. This study aims to gain insight into the way clinicians actually make ethical decisions. Moving on from this, it critically evaluates such processes and offers both an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the clinicians’ ethical decision-making and considers how this form of decision-making can be extended and supported in practice. The aims of this thesis are to contribute to the debate on both how ethical decision-making in the infertility clinic can be improved and, more generally, how bioethics can make a useful contribute to practical problems.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information:Please note that in this electronic version page numbers of the tables and figures are different from those in the Contents. Some Appendices not included as they are photocopies of original documents (Appendix 2 and some of Appendix 6).
Uncontrolled Keywords:Infertility treatment; ethics; qualitative research
Subjects:R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
Departments, Research Centres and Related Units:Academic Faculties, Institutes and Research Centres > Faculty of Medicine > School of Population, Community & Behavioural Sciences
ID Code:1191
Deposited On:18 Feb 2011 11:52
Last Modified:19 May 2011 17:32

Repository Staff Only: item control page


Full text only
Peer reviewed only

Cross Archive Search
Top 50 authors
Top 50 items
[more statistics]

These pages are maintained by Library Staff @ University of Liverpool Library


All pages © The University of Liverpool, 2004 | Disclaimer | Accessibility | Staff | Students