Sebastian's Point is a weekly column written by one of our members regarding timely events or analysis of relevant ideas, which impact the Culture of Life. All regular members are invited to submit a column for publication at firstname.lastname@example.org. Columns should be between 800 to 1300 words and comply with the high standards expected in academic writing, including proper citations of authority or assertions referred to in your column. Please see, Submission Requirements for more details.
IVF, Eugenics, & Public Funding
Katie Breckenridge, M.S. | 11 March 2021
As part of a three-year pilot public employees' health plan, Utah requires Medicaid to "cover IVF costs for carriers of the genetic, deadly and expensive diseases."[i] This means that if a person has a genetic trait linked to diseases such as sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, etc., this person and his or her partner can qualify for in vitro fertilization, despite lacking an infertility diagnosis.[ii] Doctors will test the embryos to check if they carry the same defective genes as the parents, and on this factor, determine which embryos are "worthy" of being implanted. This bill claims empathy as Representative Ward states that it spares "the poor child" from being "damaged by this terrible disease," except these children aren't being spared from diseases when their lives are being eliminated. These children are being "spared" the gift of being able to continue their lives. There is the claim that these diseases are expensive to treat, so weeding out the embryos with genetic traits for these diseases will save parents money.[iii] This mindset tells the world that those persons with disabilities have no right to live since their lives will be more physically and financially challenging, and they should quickly be eliminated upon discovery of any less-than-perfect diagnosis.
Medicaid is partially funded by general tax revenues. It is financed by money from the general public through product sales taxes, income taxes, tuition paid to state universities, tolls on highways and bridges, and other revenues.[iv]
Medicaid was enacted to cover medically necessary health services, much like standard insurance,[v] but for low-income persons. Such medically necessary services covered are defined as those that are necessary to keep persons functioning in their daily lives, such as hospital and physician care, nursing facility care, prescriptions, dental and vision services, and services for those with disabilities. Some may argue that infertility is a health issue much like every illness covered by insurance,[vi] but while healthcare is intended to “restore physical, mental, or emotional well-being,”[vii] healthcare does not intentionally kill other human beings in an attempt to cure these ailments. Not performing the IVF process does not impair persons from living healthy lives, and it does the opposite of improving the quality of life for embryonic persons. It is not medically necessary to create human beings in laboratories on which to perform eugenic practices. It is also not medically necessary to play trial and error with embryonic lives, commodify human beings, and discard or place human beings in frozen limbo, as is inherent in the IVF process. Such practices further the view in society that human life is disposable when we are striving to achieve our desires.[viii]
As stated by Pope Francis, “When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities – to offer just a few examples – it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected.”[ix]
Besides sparing children from disease, Representative Ward also claims that there are cost savings to choosing which embryos to try to implant based on genetics, as it would only be required to “...pay $16,000 once, for the in vitro fertilization services, instead of hundreds of thousands of dollars.” So it is a win-win in regards to “health and cost savings.”[x] Ward is encouraging other insurance companies to see if funding this eugenic procedure can save them money as well. In fact, the argument even exists that children conceived through IVF in general, not just for disease carriers, “would have positive tax benefits for the government, notwithstanding its beneficial effect on overall economic growth,” as children conceived through IVF represent “a net positive return to the government...lifetime net taxes paid from a child relative to the child’s initial IVF investment represent a 700% net return to the government in discounted US dollars from fully employed individuals.”[xi]
The creation of human life should not be used as business speculation to see how insurance companies can receive the most “bang for their buck,” nor should barriers be removed from the IVF process simply so children can be created to boost the economy.
There are several bills in progress or bills that have recently passed, requiring health insurance companies in various states such as New York, California, Nebraska, and Minnesota to cover IVF treatment despite its not being a medically necessary service.[xii] Further, the state of Oklahoma tried to pass a bill requiring insurance companies to cover IVF treatment,[xiii] while simultaneously trying to pass a bill, Senate Bill 195, stating that life begins at conception and the lives of preborn babies should be protected.[xiv] We as a society cannot further the dignity of human beings while concurrently advocating for procedures that strip away the right to life of human beings.
Our society has a “what I do with my body is none of your business” and "keep your religion out of my body" [xv] mindset, especially when it comes to birth control[xvi] and abortion,[xvii] while simultaneously insisting that there be no exemptions for religious beliefs when it comes to their funding. If it is a requirement to fund that which one is morally against, it is certainly the business of those providing the funds. And such acts are certainly the business of the taxpayers when such arguments are based primarily on the opinion that one has a right to do what one wants with one's body, even at the expense of the lives of other human beings.
The general public should not be forced to fund practices that are an obvious affront to human dignity, no matter the public’s general religious beliefs or inclinations, and especially should not be forced to fund any practice that deliberately creates, treats as disposable, and kills vulnerable, unique human beings.
Katie Breckenridge, M.S.
Operations Manager, Them Before Us
Society of St. Sebastian 2021 Academic Fellow