The likely overturning of Roe v. Wade has panicked many reproductive technology advocates, specifically the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. When abortion policy is decided by individual states, personhood laws such as Louisiana’s Human Life Protection Act and Texas’s Heartbeat Act could immediately criminalize many aspects of Big Fertility’s business model. That’s because destroying human life is part and parcel of in vitro fertilization (IVF).
The violation of lab-created children’s right to life begins in the petri dish. First, IVF often involves the preimplantation screening of 6 or 7 day old blastocysts (early embryos), to not only determine the likelihood of implantation success, but also screen for chromosomal abnormalities such as Down Syndrome, and inherited genetic anomalies such as breast cancer, cystic fibrosis, and spinal muscular atrophy. Only the tiny humans determined to be “genetically healthy and normal” are transferred for implantation or frozen for future use. The rest are discarded.
Researchers have found, however, that embryos with abnormal cells have the ability to self-correct, or push the abnormal cells out and replace them with normal cells. Eliminating these early embryos, of course, therefore destroys untold numbers of developing human beings that might have later been designated as “good quality.”
Judith Daar of Northern Kentucky University believes the genetic testing that is routinely performed on embryos could be banned as a result of personhood laws, according to CNN. How many babies would be alive today if they were indeed not subjected to “quality” screenings?
But even if IVF babies aren’t discarded, they still aren’t out of the woods. Many are considered “surplus” or “leftovers” and cryogenically frozen. According to Southern Methodist University professor Seema Mohapatra, who specializes in assisted reproduction, “There’s always extra embryos … You don’t know if it’s going to take on the first cycle.”
We currently have more than 1 million frozen embryos in this country because the practice is so widespread. If embryos are legally considered human beings, clinics may violate the law if they continue discarding or freezing those “extra” and “unwanted” embryos.
Further, pro-life laws could hinder the widespread practice of
abortion “selective reduction,” standard in surrogacy contracts. Not only is there concern that clinics could be in violation of state law if they discard chromosomally abnormal embryos, but they will no longer be allowed to “selectively reduce” any “extra” children who may implant. Translation: pre-born IVF children are designer and disposable commodities, both in the lab and in the womb.
This means overturning Roe could finally end the routine discarding, freezing, and terminating of lab-created life.
While the Supreme Court declaring the humanity of the preborn under the U.S. Constitution would be an enormous step toward preserving embryonic life, pro-life legislators do not anticipate IVF being affected solely by the overturning of Roe.
Clarke Forsythe, a senior counsel at Americans United for Life, told me, “Justice Alito’s leaked draft opinion, if it becomes the official opinion of the Supreme Court, specifically limited the scope of the Court’s decision to Roe v. Wade and the ‘abortion right’ which the Court has defined as the right to ‘terminate pregnancy.’ Which means an inter-uterine pregnancy.”
Alito made clear that his opinion is limited to abortion and does not affect other areas of law, Forsythe said. Ex utero, laboratory embryos have not been covered by Roe nor by abortion law, and IVF has not been protected by Roe.
“What has protected IVF and its growth since 1981 has been public opinion, paying clients, and the special interests that want IVF,” according to Forsythe.
“There has not been sufficient regulation of IVF, but virtually no state has sought to prohibit IVF because of its popularity. If there has not been much regulation before Dobbs, I don’t see a lot of regulation coming after Dobbs. But it’s possible that stronger regulations might arise in red states,” he said….
The above comes from a May 24 posting on The Federalist.com.