According to the CDC, it’s estimated that as many as 7.5 million women in the U.S. suffer from infertility, a heartbreaking reality that has made fertility treatments a $2 billion industry. But infertility isn’t the only reason that more people than ever are turning toward In Vitro Fertilization to conceive a child. For families who are unable to conceive or for LGBT couples, it’s thanks to revolutionary advancements in fertility treatments that extend the chance for more families — especially LGBT families — to have children. It’s incredible to live in a time when treatments such as IVF not only exist, but are also highly successful.
However, with the recent introduction of a bill by Republican Georgia Rep. Jody Hice, the future of IVF is at risk. H.R. 586, another bill regarding women’s rights backed entirely by men, is an attack on abortion. If passed, it will declare that life begins from the moment of fertilization. This bill is another arrow in the GOP’s ongoing war with abortion, but that won’t be its only target. It will have an enormous effect on the future of IVF, the reason of which lies in the determining of a fertilized embryo as a person.
The IVF process includes the extracting of numerous, usually around 15, eggs for fertilization. Once fertilized, the embryos that are most likely to survive are then implanted into the uterus two but no more than three at a time in accordance with safe medical procedures. The embryos that are not used are sometimes frozen, donated for research or often discarded. And that is where the passage of H.R. 586 would effectively ban IVF. Because once those embryos are fertilized, they would be given personhood, and to throw them away could be considered a criminal act. But to implant all of them, which would be the only option going forward, would pose greater health risks and lead to a higher possibility of multiples that can increase the likelihood of complications or a lessened chance of survival. Twins or triplets used to be a high risk with IVF, but it’s been on the rapid decline in recent years due to doctors and patients choosing to implant fewer embryos.
Families are formed in a myriad of ways, and the LGBT community often relies on fertility treatments such as IVF to create families, especially for the chance to have biological children. Every person who wants to have biological children should have that right, especially when the technology is available, safe and successful. And the passing of this bill would strip that option, which for many is their only hope.
Although it’s speculated that this bill might not pass, it’s worth noting that similar bills are introduced every single year. And when we have a vice president who’s supported personhood legislation in the past, a president who has little respect or regard for women’s and LGBT rights and a Republican-controlled House and Senate, we cannot stop fighting for our reproductive rights.