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Imagine Infertility without Options

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I had a very hard time watching Mitt Romney’s GOP presidential acceptance speech last night (I had an even harder time watching Clint Eastwood—what was that!?). Romney and vice presidential running mate Paul Ryan are supporters of the Sanctity of Human Life Act—Ryan co-sponsored the HR 212 Bill last year—“to provide that human life shall be deemed to begin with fertilization.” Similar legislation called the “personhood” bill declares that life begins at conception and a newly fertilized egg is entitled to the same legal rights as a human being. If passed, such legislation could make in vitro fertilization illegal.

Consider what this means for those of us who need assisted reproductive technology, which often means producing more embryos than one might need, in order to have a baby. In many cases, all the embryos produced during an IVF cycle aren’t good enough to become babies, and may get discarded. Some people, like me, have chosen to donate any extra embryos to science for stem cell research. What this bill would do, though, is either outlaw IVF or change how doctors perform IVF to limit the amount of embryos that get produced during a cycle (which, by the way, most insurance companies don’t cover and is VERY expensive). Limiting the number of embryos produced to one or two would drastically reduce IVF success rates.

So what does that mean for people like you and me—among the 7.3 million Americans with infertility? We wouldn’t have the same options as we do today. If IVF is even still available, the procedure would change. We might have to go through several rounds of IVF to achieve success, which few people would be able to afford. It would change the medical practice of fertility. Fertility specialists could be considered criminals if a single embryo didn’t make it, for whatever reason.

What makes even less sense? Romney’s own children suffer from infertility. In May, his son Tagg became the father of twin boys, thanks to IVF and a gestational carrier. Tagg’s son Jonathan was also conceived this way. Two of Tagg’s brothers reportedly have struggled with infertility and gone through IVF as well.

Romney’s own grandchildren were conceived through IVF—would he have preferred they not been born? He made a subtle reference during his pledge in his acceptance speech last night: “As president, I will protect the sanctity of life. I will honor the institution of marriage…”

There are many more things about the Romney/Ryan ticket I don’t agree with, like the fact that they want to overturn Roe v. Wade to outlaw abortion, and are against same-sex marriages, but this blog is about infertility so I’ll stick to the topic.

I don’t usually get political here but this is personal; I had a hard time watching the 2012 Republican National Convention and listening to Romney pretend to relate to women and women’s rights. If he’s really all about unconditional love and family values—and pro-life—shouldn’t he be for the creation of life through in vitro fertilization? One in eight couples suffers from infertility; IVF gives those couples a chance at having a family.

How do you feel about the Sanctity of Human Life Act, or Personhood bill? Leave a comment.

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