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.