A little over two years ago my husband and I started the IVF (in vitro fertilization) process. We met with the doctor beforehand and discussed how many embryos we would transfer, and what our options would be for any leftover embryos. Our options for leftover embryos were to a) freeze them, b) donate them to research c) donate them to other couples d) do nothing, allow them to follow the natural course of an embryo in a petri dish, they don’t survive.
That decision, one we have kept private, was very hard for us, as I imagine it is for every couple who goes through IVF. The conversations my husband and I had about this issue though, those conversations were vital – and relationship building – for us. We talked about our faith, our finances, our personal feelings, and our gut instincts on what we felt we wanted to do with any leftover embryos.
There are currently conversations being held in state legislatures of the United States that would seek to make the conversations my husband and I had null. Several state governments in America are seeking to pass “personhood initiatives” which would give full legal rights to embryos from the moment of fertilization and place other restrictions on A.R.T.(Assisted Reproductive Technology) procedures. If passed, depending on the state you lived in, would determine whether you had the right to have that conversation my husband and I had, or even if you could pursue IVF.
This subject is a highly charged one. It is entrenched in the greater debate of abortion in the United States, yet has ramifications for couples seeking A.R.T., couples seeking to preserve fertility due to cancer treatments, couples needing to use egg, sperm, embryo donors, and/or gestational carriers. According to http://www.fertilitylabinsider.com:
“Personhood initiatives are one of the most dangerous threats aimed at public access to fertility and perinatal care, and would stand to severely hinder our ability to treat infertility with most assisted reproductive technologies.”
Personhood initiatives could limit the amount of eggs a doctor could retrieve for an IVF attempt, making those attempts much less likely to succeed and eliminating the possibility of freezing any embryos for future attempts. They could also require couples to freeze all viable embryos indefinitely, incurring years of preservation charges.
This issue is complicated. This is issue is important. There are several articles covering this issue and I am listing a few of them here. We hope you’ll read and comment and let us know what you think!
Personhood initiative articles:
Resolve, the American National Infertility Association list of articles on personhood laws
What do you think about these ‘personhood’ initiatives and their possible impact on couples seeking A.R.T.?
If you live outside of the United States does your country/province/state have laws like this or seeking to pass laws like this?
If laws like this were passed, would it affect your future family planning?