….Though many Americans, including pro-lifers, might not be familiar with the technology, in vitro fertilization probably has a more destructive impact on unborn life than abortion. According to the latest statistics available from the CDC, in 2019, there were 330,773 reproductive cycles conducted by US fertility clinics, resulting in 83,946 live born infants. A third of these cycles were for banking where eggs or embryos are frozen for future use. The other cycles were attempts to conceive and bring to term a child. In the typical cycle, multiple eggs are retrieved and fertilized. The resulting embryos are sorted and one or more implanted. The leftover embryos are frozen, donated for research, or discarded. If the mother ends up with a multiple pregnancy, she may choose a “fetal reduction.”

In other words, to bring one child to life normally involves sacrificing other embryos, often many. In one study, the median number of eggs retrieved per cycle was nine, with five being successfully fertilized. If we calculate using this median rate, in 2019 out of a million embryos involved in IVF cycles, 84,000 made it to term—the remaining 900,000 did not. By comparison, in the same year, the CDC reported 629,898 abortions. Both figures are inaccurate and out of date, but the basic comparison holds: death by IVF probably exceeds death by abortion.

This disregard for life is exacerbated by the fact that the fertility industry is a competitive business. The CDC tracks success rates of clinics so that consumers can choose where to take their business. This provides a strong incentive for clinics to harvest and fertilize an optimum number of embryos. For example, the study referenced above found a strong connection between live-birth rates and the number of eggs retrieved, maxing at fifteen eggs. Following this guidance, a clinic will want to maximize its retrieval and fertilization of eggs….

This commodification of the human person is aggravated by the high costs of these technologies. Poor people do not use IVF to have babies. However, they may be used by IVF to provide the donor gametes and rented wombs that are increasingly the stock in trade of the billion-dollar fertility industry. If we are disturbed by the amount of money that fuels abortion, we should be appalled by the money that goes into the manufacture of babies. There are certain things that just should not be for sale—like eggs and wombs.

If we are disturbed by the amount of money that fuels abortion, we should be appalled by the money that goes into the manufacture of babies.

This threat to dignity is not just to the children involved in IVF but to the whole of society. We have seen clearly over the decades how the abortion license has lowered our respect for the human person at all stages of life. IVF is gradually having the same effect: a community that denies civil protection to its most vulnerable members is on a slippery slope where it becomes easier to deny that protection to everyone else….

The above comes from a July 17 posting in The Public Discourse.