Personhood Bills Threaten IVF

May 2, 2012Carole 1 Comment »

You might think that the infertility community has nothing in common with the ProChoice community, but you would be very wrong. Both groups risk access to reproductive health care if the numerous personhood bills pending in various states are actually passed.

If you haven’t already run across these personhood bills, they all have in common the goal of creating a new legal definition of personhood. namely, personhood would be defined as beginning at the moment of conception which means the zygote would have all the rights of a person. These personhood laws are designed to eliminate the rights granted by Roe vs. Wade to have lawful abortions. The side effect of these laws will be to eliminate any procedures which have the potential to harm an embryo.

The infertility advocacy and support group, Resolve,  states succinctly why the infertility community opposes personhood. From their website:

“Why the Infertility Community Opposes Personhood:

  • Defining an embryo as a person will ultimately undermine access to safe and reliable infertility medical treatment, including IVF.
  • Personhood legislation is anti-family as it restricts access to medically necessary assisted reproductive technologies for people diagnosed with infertility.
  • Personhood legislation would eliminate access to medical treatments for cancer patients as a way to preserve their fertility.”

Interestingly, because the earliest versions of personhood bills have been defeated, the authors of these type of bills have become more crafty in their wording. In House Bill 1 in Virginia, the opening statement seemingly protects infertility treatments, reading as follows:

“Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as affecting lawful assisted conception.”

The sticking point is that adjective “lawful”. What is lawful?  Lawful is defined as treatments which have zero chance of damaging, destroying or losing an embryo. Well, Hello, welcome to the world of medicine because there are risks to every medical intervention that exists, now or in the future. In IVF, some percentage of all embryos created are accidentally damaged, destroyed or lost as an INEVITABLE consequence of techniques used EVERY DAY in EVERY IVF lab in the world. If your clinic tells you this never happens in their lab, they are big fat liars. It should happen rarely but it does happen, every day somewhere. Moving embryos from dish to dish is risky. Injecting eggs with sperm is risky. Loading embryos in catheters has a risk of loss. Freezing embryos is risky. Thawing embryos is risky. Storing embryos is risky.  Embryo biopsy is risky. The only way to be sure there is NO RISK is to never create an embryo in the lab. Voila, there it is, the end of IVF in whichever states pass these laws. Arguably, this would be boon for IVF in surrounding states but certainly a hardship for patients in that state.

How many  physician practices or hospitals would risk their business and possibly their freedom by offering IVF if the possible damage or demise of an embryo from  IVF treatments  would be an actual CRIME because damaging, losing or destroying an embryo would be damaging, losing or destroying a PERSON? IVF labs would close their doors so fast, it would make your head spin. REI’s could do non-IVF endocrinology and infertility treatments.  REI’s are often OBGyns so they could fall back on this specialty. Embryologists would be clamoring (most unsuccessfully) to find employment in animal labs. Patients would be most severely affected.

According to IVF Connections,  personhood bills have been put forward in these states: Colorado, Alabama,Arizona, Iowa, Georgia, Montana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas and Virgina. Signatures are being collected for proposed ballot measures in Colorado ( although bills were defeated twice previously), Ohio, Montana and California. In Kansas, Virginia, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Alabama and Georgia, bills are in the works that could also lead to personhood referendums. The anti-choice advocacy group Personhood USA has activists working in every state to pass personhood laws so no one should feel safe from these anti-IVF initiatives.  The bottom line is that if you want to protect access to IVF as a lawful fertility treatment in every state in the US, you need to vote against these personhood initiatives in every state.


© 2012, Carole. All rights reserved.

One response to this entry

  • michelle earnhart Says:

    I just came across your website doing a google search. I want to write to you my story of fertility treatments gone horribly wrong. I want to make sure it is anonymous. I am consdiring trying one more round of meds or maybe IVF and am thoroughly confused. I feel compelled to write to you because you are so active on this blog. Would you be interested in hearing my story? would you write back? you could share it so long as it was anonymous.

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