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Obstetrics and Gynecology International
Volume 2012, Article ID 724591, 5 pages
Research Article

Ethical Issues in Pharmacologic Research in Women Undergoing Pregnancy Termination: A Systemic Review and Survey of Researchers

1Motherisk Program, Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON, Canada M5G 1X8
2Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada M5S 1A1

Received 12 August 2011; Revised 28 September 2011; Accepted 4 October 2011

Academic Editor: Shannon Clark

Copyright © 2012 Christelle Gedeon et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Objective. To evaluate the ethics of performing research in the field of maternal-fetal medicine involving women undergoing pregnancy termination. Methods. We identified published pharmacological studies performed during elective pregnancy termination. In addition, a questionnaire was administered to investigate whether this research would be acceptable to professionals performing research in the field of maternal-fetal pharmacology. Results. The majority of participants believe that this form of research is necessary to furthering our understanding of drug use in pregnancy. Twenty studies were identified in women undergoing a pregnancy termination where exogenous drug was administered and drug measurement conducted during an abortion. The majority of studies were completed by international groups and not in North America or Western Europe. Conclusions. While a majority of respondents to the survey felt that, although research in women undergoing a pregnancy termination is ethically acceptable, 40% stated that it is not likely to be approved by institutional review boards of most North American medical institutions.