What can European Principlism Teach about Public Funding of IVF? The Israeli Case

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Fertility treatments, which are part of "assisted reproductive technologies" (ART), mainly undertaken through in vitro fertilization (IVF), offer the opportunity to infertile couples to conceive. IVF treatments are undertaken in Israel in significantly higher numbers than in the rest of the world. As such, Israel provides an important case-in-point for examining the validity of the actual claims used to justify the more generous public funding of IVF treatments at the policy level. In this article, we utilize an analytical philosophy approach to conduct this examination. First, we highlight two fundamental concepts that were used at the Israeli public policy level in order to justify the generous public funding of IVF treatments. These concepts are “emotional vulnerability” and the “worthlessness of the childless,” where the latter emphasizes the infinite value of children. Then, by applying the perspective of the European model of Bioethical Principlism, and focusing the attention to these two concepts we show that these justifications are invalid. Specifically, it is suggested that these concepts are on the one hand both relying on and expressing the principles of vulnerability, dignity, and integrity; yet on the other hand, these concepts are also undermining the very principles of bioethics they are supposed to express and rely on. Based on this suggested criticism, we offer two “take home” messages informed by our analysis of the Israeli case, but reaching beyond it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-454
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Bioethical Inquiry
Issue number3
Early online dateMay 2021
StatePublished - Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Pty Ltd.


  • Emotional vulnerability
  • European Principlism
  • IVF funding
  • Israel


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