The United States Supreme Court recently overruled Roe v. Wade, which gave individuals the constitutional right to end a pregnancy. This landmark ruling essentially removes federal protection for women’s reproductive rights. Individual states are now trying to pass anti-abortion legislation or maintain the status quo. But how does Roe vs Wade affect IVF? Why are people worried about an assisted reproductive technology which has nothing to do with aborting a pregnancy? There is more than meets the eye. So let us discuss what the striking down of this right could mean for the hundreds of thousands of couples taking the IVF route to start a family.
How does the Ruling of Roe v. Wade Affect IVF Procedures?
Naturally, this judgment has sparked debate over access to abortion as well as the provision of reproductive healthcare. Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), primarily IVF (in vitro fertilization) procedures remain under an obscure threat of harder accessibility and unprecedented evaluations, after the outlawing.
Experts worry that the phrasing in these new legislations could have unanticipated repercussions for IVF procedures and reproductive medicine, in general, as many states are including embryos in the definition of “personhood”. As the legal barrier that prohibited the states from making “abortion” illegal has been taken away, patients who have frozen embryos or are undergoing IVF are being urged and advised to not only contact their local state officials to discuss their experiences but also stay informed of the shifting legislative landscape in their state.
Without Roe v. Wade, a person’s ability to obtain an abortion is governed by the state in which they reside. Unfortunately, as Roe v. Wade was reversed, it was expected that 23 states and territories would immediately outlaw safe and medically managed abortion.
Legal practitioners and medical professionals expressed significant concern about how the wording and interpretation of these legislations may have more significant effects and implications than predicted, potentially jeopardizing the legal status of IVF procedures.
The term “Assisted Reproductive Technology” (ART) refers to fertility procedures that handle eggs and embryos. People may often choose to use these procedures due to multiple reasons, like struggling with infertility or choosing to delay starting a family.
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is among the most widely used ART methods (IVF). The procedure, in short, is as follows:
- Mature eggs are removed from the ovaries and fertilized with sperm in a lab.
- The fertilized eggs form embryos which are then implanted into the uterus of the female.
- In order to increase the likelihood of IVF being successful, doctors frequently try obtain multiple embryos for the couple
- However, in most cases, only one of the embryos is typically placed in the woman’s womb to grow.
- Usually, the remaining embryos are frozen and saved for future children, discarded if genetically abnormal, or in some cases stored for donating to other couples.
In some states, a frozen embryo may now be seen in the same way as a fetus in the womb, and any discarding of the embryo would now be a breech of the states anti-abortion law. This is why the overturning of Roe v. Wade may cause a lot of unanticipated problems for people. According to the legislation in some places, the recognition of a fetus’ personhood after a specific number of weeks of gestation may be sufficient to forbid its abortion.
Potential Threats to Artificial Reproductive Technologies
Some state-dependent very crucial questions are:
- Is it still considered an abortion, to reject an embryo if it is unfit and/or is not genetically viable?
- When does real life or personhood start in your state’s legislation?
- Is it immediately following fertilization, or during a later stage of development?
The part which gets risky is that people may be required to use all of the embryos created through IVF (if abortion of a fertilized egg is prohibited) and fertility treatments. A person or couple may be forced to have more children, whether they want to or not, as a result of these broad generalizations and draconian rules.
Although the legal reforms are currently concentrated on abortion alone, they may eventually apply to other reproductive health options as well, such as emergency contraception or assisted reproductive technology like in vitro fertilization (IVF).
In addition to possibly affecting access to IVF and how the doctors use it, trigger laws may also have an impact on people living in states which are no longer legally protected to perform abortions. Following the outlawing of Roe v. Wade, trigger laws that recognize an embryo as a person can come into force. Anti-abortion legislation may make it unlawful to reject embryos, even though they are not all required in IVF treatments and other such procedures if a fertilized egg is considered to be a person.
Due to the fact that IVF normally entails maturing or stimulating, extracting, and fertilizing a large number of eggs to produce a sufficient number of embryos that are viable, this may have an impact on how the treatment is carried out.
Only approximately 60% of fertilized eggs successfully grow into an embryo throughout the IVF process. It is also possible that certain states with abortion prohibitions may also limit the number of eggs that can be fertilized simultaneously, to prevent the loss of embryos.
Roe vs Wade IVF: What the SC Decision Could Mean for You
Over 300,000 ART cycles were carried out in the U.S. in 2020 alone, and almost two out of every 100 babies born in the country are the result of IVF. Although the primary goal of these restrictions is to limit abortions, there are concerns from legal fertility experts such as doctors and lawyers, that without Roe v. Wade, state lawmakers may draft legislation that could endanger access to family-building procedures like IVF.
Louisiana is the only state in the United States that throws some light on what is known as a personhood law. This law apparently addresses the embryos developed through assisted reproductive technology. The article further explains how this law stipulates that the embryos created through IVF are “juridical persons” with particular rights guaranteed by law. The right to doctor-patient confidentiality and the right not to be sold, used for research, or destroyed is among these rights.
Most IVF laboratories base their decisions on an embryo‘s quality, growth, and possibility for implantation. If the doctors are unable to evaluate such things, the whole significance of the process is greatly reduced.
According to some specialists, this law could also have an impact on the decision to destroy embryos after genetic testing is performed (to check for fitness or viability) before IVF is used to implant them in the uterus.
- Due to these personhood regulations, hence, it could be concluded that discarding embryos would be illegal, even if any of them had any genetic abnormalities.
- This could manifest in the form of state laws that might eventually demand reproductive clinics and doctors to fertilize fewer eggs and produce fewer embryos, in an effort to prevent these outcomes (of wastage of the apparent personhood of embryos).
- The future of IVF and the hundreds of thousands of Americans who depend on this treatment to start families may be affected by the absence of donation of unused embryos.
- Medical professionals and medical lawyers concur that limiting the number of eggs that can be fertilized will ultimately reduce the success rate of IVF, necessitating more IVF cycles and costing more money (as it could take patients longer to conceive).
- IVF patients may have to transport the embryos to states without these types of restrictions, discarding them elsewhere, if hurdles are in place to discarding surplus embryos from the IVF process or embryos that are not genetically viable.
- Embryo transfer costs can vary depending on the state.
- Medical professionals advise patients to call a clinic and request to talk with the finance department to learn how much a typical clinic would bill (for a procedure that is already expensive) in this circumstance, since they are expected to surge too, with such laws in action.
Before Roe v. Wade, IVF didn’t exist, so people who choose the procedure (and reside in states that forbid abortion) are venturing into unfamiliar territory. Incidences and unexpected repercussions of repealing Roe v. Wade could extend far beyond abortion. The practice of in vitro fertilization may be significantly altered in places where measures are being filed that define a fetus as a person or define human life as beginning at fertilization.
While overturning Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court has literally divided the nation vertically, there is still hope for individuals who not only seek a safe abortion but wish to build a family using ARTs. While the Supreme Court decision has been disappointing on many counts and for many, it is a step backward for individual freedom, human rights, progress, and social change, it is more important than ever for those receiving fertility treatments to be aware of and understand their rights.
California as a state has always charted the course of progress and even during these times, it is not only safeguarding the right of women desirous of a safe abortion but also putting legal protections in place for abortion providers. And it is also inviting people from other states to avail of the opportunity to enjoy the care they need in the world-class facilities in the state.
As members of a progressive community of safe fertility services providers, Halo Fertility, a premier fertility clinic in California is at the forefront of assisting individuals and couples – both heterosexual and homosexual – to enjoy their reproductive rights to start a family using state-of-the-art ARTs through an expert team of professionals in a safe, patient-centered and welcoming atmosphere.
Whether you are a resident of California or from any other state that is hostile to abortion, we welcome you to our facility where we promise you an elevated, personalized, and comforting fertility experience. Book an appointment today.