Rosaries in hand, a small group of abortion opponents gathered outside a medical facility to pray for the unborn.

It was a familiar ritual held at an unconventional location: a fertility clinic.

An annual Bike for Life fundraiser culminated on a recent Saturday at the Naperville Fertility Center, a site where technology and science are typically heralded for enabling life where it was once deemed impossible.

Yet the crowd out front expressed concern for the fate of frozen embryos inside — particularly those that might be discarded, cryo-preserved indefinitely or donated for research — as a result of in vitro fertilization, considered the most effective form of assisted reproductive technology.

“When you do IVF, you create a life, but how many lives does it take?” said John Zabinski, founder of the bicycling event, which is organized by a local council of the Knights of Columbus. “When you get this life, what happens to the other babies?”

To Zabinski and his supporters, an embryo is just as worthy of protection as a fetus of any gestational age, based on the moral principle that life begins at conception. He lamented that some anti-abortion leaders ignore or de-emphasize potential consequences of IVF.

Numerous states have recently passed some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation in an attempt to challenge Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that established the right to terminate a pregnancy. Among the most stringent was Alabama’s near-total ban on abortion, but it includes a notable exception — in vitro fertilization.

“The egg in the lab doesn’t apply,” Clyde Chambliss, state senator and bill sponsor, said during legislative debate. “It’s not in a woman. She’s not pregnant.”

Sean Tipton, spokesman for the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, considers opposition to IVF a fringe crusade among abortion foes. He added that fights against fertility treatments tend to be very unpopular, so those against reproductive rights are less inclined to tackle IVF because “they know they’ll lose.”

The above comes from an Oct. 8 story in the Chicago Tribune.