New state-level abortion restrictions do not ban in vitro fertilization (IVF) despite concerns raised by corporate media and abortion advocates, according to multiple experts.
Democrats, abortion activists and media outlets have stirred fears that post-Roe v. Wade abortion restrictions could limit fertility treatments including IVF, but new abortion laws would have little or no impact on the practice because they focus on in-utero fetuses rather than pre-implantation embryos. During IVF, eggs are extracted from a woman’s body, fertilized in a lab, frozen and implanted into a womb, according to the Mayo Clinic, with unwanted embryos left over at the end of the process often donated or discarded.
The New York Times ran an article highlighting fears of “infertility patients and doctors” that abortion bans could limit IVF, while NBC News reported that “providers and lawyers” were worried about new laws impacting IVF, and an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times suggested that IVF would be “derailed” by abortion restrictions.
The articles highlight concerns that abortion restrictions could ban common IVF practices, such as throwing away unwanted frozen human embryos after a parent is done with the IVF process.
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However, state-level abortion bans enacted since the overturning of Roe v. Wade define abortion as the termination of a post-implantation pregnancy, according to The New York Times.
“Pro-abortion activists and legacy media outlets who continue to suggest that IVF will be limited intentionally mislead the American people,” Mallory Carroll, vice president at SBA Pro-Life America, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Not a single state legislature or Congress is debating making fertility treatments or IVF illegal – to suggest otherwise is scaremongering.”
Alabama, which banned most abortions in a 2019 bill that went into effect after Roe was overturned, includes unborn children in utero in its definition of personhood for the sake of murder law, excluding pre-implantation embryos. Republican Alabama State Sen. Clyde Chambliss, the bill’s sponsor, clarified that the bill did not apply to frozen embryos in 2019.
“The egg in the lab doesn’t apply,” he said, according to Bloomberg. “It’s not in a woman. She’s not pregnant.”
Arkansas also defines human life beginning at fertilization rather than conception, according to The New York Times. A person is “an individual organism of the species Homo sapiens from fertilization until live birth,” according to state law.
Of the 13 state trigger laws banning most abortions, 12 will have no apparent impact on IVF; Utah’s impact on IVF is unclear since it bans the intentional killing of a “live unborn child,” which could potentially be interpreted to include the discarding of frozen human embryos created through IVF, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. However, the Utah bill focuses on post-implantation pregnancies and does not mention IVF.
Abortions restrictions could, however, impact the practice of selective abortions of multifetal pregnancies caused by IVF.
Multifetal pregnancy reduction is the practice of removing one or more fetuses through abortion when a woman is pregnant with multiples, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. IVF has caused a massive increase in the prevalence of multifetal pregnancies.
Since not every embryo will be successfully implanted into the womb, doctors will often implant multiple embryos, which can result in multifetal pregnancies, according to the Mayo Clinic. In these cases, some women choose to have some of the fetuses aborted in order to avoid the health risks associated with multifetal pregnancies.
The New York Times and NBC did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.
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