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Sebastian's Point

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 soss.submissions@gmail.com. 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.

Moral Problems with the “Right to IVF Act”:

Some Pro-Life Considerations

Katie Breckenridge, M.S.

Operations Administrator

Them Before Us  |  23  June  2024

 

Despite their long-standing disagreements, Republicans and Democrats are both pushing for legislation to protect access to In Vitro Fertilization, though their legislative approaches differ. The Republican bill,[1] introduced by Senators Ted Cruz and Katie Britt, requires states to continue providing IVF services, or lose their Medicaid funding. Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth claimed that the Republican “IVF Protection Act” does not provide enough protection for IVF treatments and that it encourages red states to instead defund Medicaid and ban IVF. Barbara Collura of “Resolve: The National Infertility Association” argues that the bill allows for too many opportunities to regulate IVF, such as prohibiting the freezing of embryos or preimplantation genetic testing.[2]

 

 

The Democratic bill, the “Right to IVF Act,”[3] states that “redefin[ing] the concept of a living, breathing human being to include frozen, extrauterine embryos [is] a belief founded in theology, rather than medical science and basic commonsense.” This bill combines four ART bills that establish a statutory right to IVF services without prohibition or interference, expand gamete freezing and family-building assistance to veterans and service members, and require employer-sponsored and other public insurance plans to cover fertility treatments.

           

 

Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith stated that this coverage could be a slippery slope to practices such as the creation of human-animal hybrids, and stated that while she supports the ability for parents to have total access to IVF and to bring new life into the world, she also believes human life should be protected.[4] Thankfully, Senator Hyde-Smith and Senator James Lankford have introduced a bill to promote restorative reproductive medicine practices,[5] which is a step in the right direction, but those who believe that human life should be protected, should also push for a total elimination of IVF.

Examining further, the “Right to IVF Act” states that “Since its development in the 1970s, in vitro fertilization…has proven itself to be a safe, effective, and reliable means to achieving pregnancy.” In reality, the IVF process is not safe, effective, or reliable, as the procedure involves harm to both women and children. Not only are these embryonic human lives subject to the experimental trial and error process,[6] but IVF treats human beings as commodities which one has the right to manufacture at the expense of the created persons. These persons’ lives are experimented on, they are made-to-order, and their basic human rights and foundational human needs are often ignored. Contrary to the beliefs of many, IVF is not simply about “creating new life,” but it is also about sacrificing millions of children to death to the belief that adults have a “right” to children.

 

 

Women seeking to have their eggs extracted must submit to the unnatural process that is hyperstimulation of their ovaries, which is done by the daily injection of follicle-stimulating hormones called gonadotropins to coerce the ovaries to mature and release several eggs at once. These injections have side effects such as nausea, cramping, dizziness, and the risk of developing ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, which can result in pulmonary issues, stroke,[7] blood clots,[8] kidney dysfunction, loss of fertility,[9] premature menopause, and even death. Hyperstimulation syndrome also results in enlarged ovaries and an accumulation of fluid in the abdomen after stimulation and ovulation occurs. A mild form of hyperstimulation syndrome occurs in 10% to 20% of cycles.[10]

The egg retrieval process comes with risks as well, such as the risk of injury to the bladder, bowel, uterus, ovaries, and blood vessels.[11] There is also the risk of pelvic infection, ovarian infection, ectopic pregnancy, and miscarriage.[12] This process hardly sounds “safe” for women.

 

 

Regarding “effective and reliable,” the average live birth rate among women aged 35-37 (using their own eggs) is 42.8 percent. Women aged 38-40 using IVF have a live birth rate of 35.5 percent. Further, after the first IVF cycle, less than 30 percent of women have a live birth, and there’s a paltry 45 percent success rate after three full cycles of IVF. Two-thirds of patients will be successful after six or more cycles.[13]

 

 

The bill further states, “IVF is a pro-woman and pro-family solution for those struggling to have children.” While IVF is seemingly “pro-woman and pro-family,” it is certainly not pro-life. Only 3-7% of lab-created children will be born alive.[14] Many will be discarded through preimplantation screenings, discarded for being “leftover,” indefinitely frozen, donated to scientific research, or be aborted if “too many” embryos implant in the uterus at once. In 2021, it was reported that out of 413,776 IVF cycles, there were only 112,088 pregnancies, and 91,906 live births (deliveries of one or more living infants).[15]

According to Emma Waters of The Heritage Foundation, “Presuming a conservative estimate that only 10 embryos are created in an average round of IVF, this means that the 413,776 rounds of IVF reported in 2021 resulted in the creation of approximately 4.1 million embryos. When dividing the total number of live-born infants by 4.1 million, this would mean that only 2.3 percent of all embryos created in the United States result in the live birth of a baby.”[16] How many millions of embryonic persons are lost in this process?

 

 

The bill claims that “IVF has become a symbol of hope for those aspiring to conceive,” but these couples, sadly, do not foresee the failed embryo transfers they will have to endure and the thousands of dollars they will spend to create that one child[17]---not to mention the number of children they will lose in the process just to reach the end product of one child.

It is also not “pro-woman” to treat women as incubators through surrogacy, which often occurs through IVF. Is it truly acceptable to commodify and objectify women’s bodies as incubators for our own personal use?[18]

In order to sync the surrogate’s and “intended mother’s” cycles prior to an embryo transfer, birth control pills, along with the drug “Lupron,” are used.[19] Along with the risks of blood clots,[20] [21] heart attacks, strokes, and certain cancers that come along with the use of birth control pills, Lupron is utilized “off-label,” meaning that it was never registered for use in artificial reproduction and fertility treatment, nor has it been tested for short or long-term negative health effects. Lupron is an antineoplastic agent, which means that it is harmful to cancerous and non-cancerous cells, and if a woman gets pregnant while taking it, there can be harm to the fetus.

Note this long list of other possible side effects of cycle-synchronizing drugs: hypotension, anxiety, depression, insomnia, autoimmune diseases, blood disorders, hematuria, Vitamin D deficiency, osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, and all kinds of other ailments. Are we really okay with putting other women through these risks for our own benefit?

 

 

Another point mentioned in this bill is that “It is now estimated that nearly 2 percent of all live births in the United States are the result of IVF, resulting in tens of thousands of happy, healthy babies being born annually.” The IVF process exposes eggs and embryos to unnatural environments during the maturation and fertilization process. These unnatural environments can impact cellular processes and alter chromosome structure, the transcription of DNA, and embryonic development,[22] leading to conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and autoimmune and neurological disorders in IVF children.[23] The increased risk in physical and intellectual disabilities faced by children conceived through IVF leaves “healthy babies” open to much interpretation.

Lastly, “The use of IVF has strengthened our communities and our nation by promoting generations of children and families that otherwise may not have come to be.” While IVF is surely responsible for generations of children and families, it is also responsible for the murder of generations of children. In 2012, it was found that since 1991, 3.5 million embryos had been created with 1.7 million having been discarded.[24]

 

In Vitro Fertilization should not be pushed by any politician claiming to be “pro-life.” Children have an inherent right to be conceived within the one flesh conjugal union of their mothers and fathers, not treated as commodities to experiment with as we wish in hopes of achieving our desires.

 

__________________

[1] “18TH CONGRESS 2D SESSION.” n.d. Accessed June 14, 2024. https://www.britt.senate.gov/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/2024.05.17-IVF-Protection-Act-LYN24343.pdf.

[2] Hubbard, Kaia. 2024. “Americans Want to Protect IVF amid Battles over Abortion, but Senate at Odds over Path Forward - CBS News.” www.cbsnews.com. May 24, 2024. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ivf-senate-at-odds-over-legislation/.

[3] “Senate Democrats Support Establishing Nationwide Right to IVF and Lowering IVF Costs for Middle-Class Families.” n.d. Accessed June 14, 2024. https://www.murray.senate.gov/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/Right-to-IVF-Act-Summary-1.pdf.

[4] Hubbard, Kaia. 2024. “Americans Want to Protect IVF amid Battles over Abortion, but Senate at Odds over Path Forward - CBS News.” www.cbsnews.com. May 24, 2024. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ivf-senate-at-odds-over-legislation/.

[5] To Expand and Promote Research and Data Collection on Reproductive Health Conditions, to Provide Training Opportunities for Medical Professionals to Learn How to Diagnose and Treat Reproductive Health Conditions, and for Other Purposes. 2024. United States Senate Bill. https://www.hydesmith.senate.gov/sites/default/files/2024-06/061324_TAM24694_RESTORE_FINAL.pdf.

[6] Breckenridge, Katie. 2022. “IVF Harms to Children.” Them before Us. July 15, 2022. https://thembeforeus.com/ivf-harms-to-children/.

[7] Klein, Renate. 2017. Surrogacy: A Human Rights Violation. Amazon. 1st edition. North Geelong, Victoria: Spinifex Press. https://www.amazon.com/Surrogacy-Rights-Violation-Spinifex-Shorts/dp/1925581039.

[8] “Side Effects of Injectable Fertility Drugs (Gonadotropins).” n.d. www.reproductivefacts.org. https://www.reproductivefacts.org/news-and-publications/patient-fact-sheets-and-booklets/documents/fact-sheets-and-info-booklets/side-effects-of-injectable-fertility-drugs-gonadotropins/.

[9] Lahl, Jennifer, “Telling the Truth about Surrogacy in the United States,” The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network, February 2022, https://cbcnetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/CBCLahl_Telling_the_Truth_about_Surrogacy_in_the_United_States.pdf.

[10] “Side Effects of Injectable Fertility Drugs Patient Education Fact Sheet.” n.d. ReproductiveFacts.org. https://www.reproductivefacts.org/news-and-publications/patient-fact-sheets-and-booklets/documents/fact-sheets-and-info-booklets/side-effects-of-injectable-fertility-drugs-gonadotropins/.

[11] “Egg (Oocyte) Retrieval - Stanford Children’s Health.” n.d. Www.stanfordchildrens.org. https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/service/fertility-and-reproductive-health/oocyte-retrieval.

[12] Williams, Anne Marie. 2020. “Egg Freezing, IVF, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Why Women Are Not Guaranteed to ‘Have It All’” Live Action News. December 2, 2020. https://www.liveaction.org/news/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-egg-freezing-ivf/.

[13] “What Is IVF Success Rate? 10 Important Factors to Consider - IVF Authority.” n.d. www.ivfauthority.com. https://www.ivfauthority.com/ivf-success-rate/#:~:text=Trends%20in%20IVF%20Success%20Rates%20by%20Age%20.

[14] Waters, Emma. n.d. “Why the IVF Industry Must Be Regulated.” The Heritage Foundation. https://www.heritage.org/life/report/why-the-ivf-industry-must-be-regulated.

[15] Mardovich, Sarah, Amy Jewett, Yujia Zhang, Mithi Sunderam, Charles Buxton, Dmitry M. Kissin, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, et al. 2023. “2021 Assisted Reproductive Technology Fertility Clinic and National Summary Report.” Edited by Amanda Crowell. Uploaded by Kelly Morris.

[16]  Waters, Emma. n.d. “Why the IVF Industry Must Be Regulated.” The Heritage Foundation. https://www.heritage.org/life/report/why-the-ivf-industry-must-be-regulated.

[17] Conrad, Marissa. 2023. “How Much Does IVF Cost?” Forbes Health, August 14, 2023. https://www.forbes.com/health/womens-health/how-much-does-ivf-cost/.

[18] “Surrogacy - OBJECT NOW.” 2021. June 5, 2021. https://objectnow.org/surrogacy/.

[19] Fell, Kallie. “Let’s Talk about Lupron.” The Center for Bioethics & Culture Network. April 23, 2020. https://cbc-network.org/2020/04/lets-talk-about-lupron/.

[20] “Birth Control Pill: Side Effects, Risks, Alternatives, and the Shot.” n.d. www.medicalnewstoday.com. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/290196#alternatives.

[21]  Breckenridge, Katie. 2024. “Birth Control: Evidence for Why Women Should Ditch ‘The Pill.’” Angelus News - Multimedia Catholic News. May 2, 2024. https://angelusnews.com/news/nation/evidence-ditch-pill/.

[22] Breckenridge, Katie. 2021. “The Problem with Polygenic IVF Screening.” Them Before Us. September 10, 2021. https://thembeforeus.com/the-problem-with-polygenic-ivf-screening/.

[23] Breckenridge, Katie. 2022. “IVF Harms to Children.” Them Before Us. July 15, 2022. https://thembeforeus.com/ivf-harms-to-children/.

[24] Hough, Andrew. 2012. “1.7 million human embryos created for IVF thrown away.” The Telegraph.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/9772233/1.7-million-human-embryos-created-for-IVF-thrown-away.html.

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