New IVF legislation causes chaos

The ruling opens the door for further restrictions on bodily autonomy.

Alabama courts have made an unprecedented ruling that will forever alter the issue of reproductive rights. In a lawsuit that made it all the way to the state Supreme Court, Alabama declared that frozen embryos resulting from the process of in vitro fertilization (IVF) hold the same rights as living, born children. This should mean that pregnant women should be able to file their fetuses as dependents on their tax forms. This should mean that child support begins at conception and independent pregnant mothers are entitled to nine more months of payment from the source of half the child’s DNA.

However, the immediate effects of this decision are not going to benefit pregnant mothers, but will instead harm those seeking help conceiving. To understand the disastrous consequences of this ruling, one needs to understand the process and procedures behind IVF and how a baby is formed.

IVF is a process through which people who are currently having difficulty or future concerns about conceiving, such as chemotherapy, can become pregnant. About a dozen eggs are removed from a woman after simulating the ovaries. The eggs can then be frozen for future use or fertilized.

If they are fertilized, they will be watched carefully for multiple days until they mature into an embryo. After this, the embryo can be frozen for future use or implanted into a viable uterus. An important piece to note here: eight to 12 eggs, on average, are extracted from the uterus, as many of these that are viable will be fertilized, but IVF clinics traditionally only transfer one embryo into the uterus. This results in extra children, as Alabama courts would like to argue, that are typically preserved by the clinic for possible future use.

The problems are glaringly apparent when the process of storing and using these embryos is considered. During their storage and when these embryos are thawed, there is a decent chance that the embryo will be damaged. If these piles of cells are considered children under the law, IVF clinics will continually be committing manslaughter through their normal operation. This is a terrifying new reality for clinics, which halted operations until last week when Gov. Kay Ivey signed a new bill into law aiming to protect IVF providers and patients undergoing treatment.

The law only wants to consider these cells living humans in certain circumstances. There is clearly a difference between piles of a hundred cells and a breathing, living child. We can all differentiate between the two. It does not make sense for a court to convict someone of the murder of a child if the child in question is not really visible to the human eye.

Not only does this imply horrifying consequences for people pursuing nontraditional methods of pregnancy, but it also implies horrifying consequences for anyone attempting or not attempting to get pregnant. The ruling has decided that embryos, even outside of the uterus, are considered children. However, this presents major problems when you begin to examine what an embryo actually is. The definition of embryo is highly debated, especially as technology rapidly develops, how long it needs to grow and where it needs to be. The only consensus is that it needs to be a fertilized egg. And if that is what a human is defined as, about half of fertilized eggs do not lead to children. If a woman gets sick or injured and that causes the cells to not develop into a human, is that an accidental murder? Is using Plan B on par with children dying from gun violence?

Contraceptives are becoming harder and harder to obtain both in Alabama and across the US. If you cannot stop the formation of pregnancy with contraceptives, the only way to be sure you are avoiding pregnancy as a cis-gendered heterosexual couple is to avoid sex altogether. However, as someone who lives on a college campus, I firmly believe that this is not a practical expectation for society as a whole.

Essentially what this ruling in Alabama has done is created unnecessary strife. e. This ruling brings our modern understanding of pregnancy and life into question in a way that its answers and laws are not going to be used to assist pregnant mothers, those wanting to become pregnant or those not wanting to become pregnant. The ruling is not only nonsensical, but detrimental to many people involved with IVF treatment. This much damage could only have been done through a complete lack of understanding of biology or through total negligence in the consideration of the very tangible consequences.

This ruling will probably not result in women randomly being accused of manslaughter when they repeatedly fail to get pregnant; however, this could logically be a conclusion derived from this. If you have a problem with this conclusion, I hope you can realize that we messed up somewhere much earlier in the line. If this is the hill society has chosen to die on, at least let pregnant mothers claim all of the benefits this logic comes with. If a police officer sees a pregnant woman driving in the HOV lane in Alabama, they should have no right whatsoever to pull her over and give her a ticket. There are two people in the car, after all.

Post Author: Savannah Maughan