Anti-abortion laws have been sweeping the nation since Roe v. Wade was overturned in June 2022. As more stringent laws regarding pregnancy emerge from states — from all-out bans to laws outlining the rights of embryos — those who are considering in vitro fertilization (IVF) have cause for concern.
For example, Louisiana recently introduced legislation that stands to effectively eliminate IVF in the state. The proposed law would define an “unborn child” as being an individual of the human species from fertilization to birth. The new proposed legislation eliminates the all-important word “implantation,” effectively making any fertilized egg on par with a born, living human being. Under the new law, any doctor who would allow a fertilized egg to die (as can happen in the IVF process) could subsequently be legally held liable for murder.
The stringent laws that are coming in the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade are frighteningly dystopian and are putting the future of people relying on IVF in jeopardy.
Restriction impact trickles down
The historic overturn of Roe v. Wade has opened the floodgates of massively restrictive laws. Many people with fertility issues have been left with questions about how the overturn could adversely affect their chances of conceiving. About 1 in 5 people attempting to conceive cannot get pregnant after one year of trying. Between 1987 and 2015, there were 1 million babies born in the United States through the use of IVF. It’s a popular option for infertile people who wish to conceive and a target for stringent anti-abortion activists who insist that life begins at conception.
IVF works by collecting eggs from ovaries and fertilizing them with sperm in a lab environment. The goal is to create as many viable embryos as possible to increase the chances of the process resulting in a pregnancy. The embryos are checked for viability in the lab and then transferred to a uterus. However, in the process of IVF, some of the embryos may be discarded — if they are found to have anomalies, for example — or frozen for use at a later date. If the restrictions such as the ones found in Louisiana begin to make their way from state to state, the entire process of IVF could be compromised.
Planning ahead and being prepared
In this current uncertain climate, the question of what people relying on IVF should do to prepare remains open. Prusothman Raja, co-founder of twoplus Fertility, urges people to have a plan and to keep an eye on the rapidly changing state of reproductive rights in the United States.
“Early action is a vital factor in everyone’s fertility journey,” says Raja. As laws begin to further hinder people’s reproductive choices, other options may need to be considered. Raja’s twoplus Fertility has created an at-home product that delivers more privacy and autonomy in the fertility journey. “Twoplus is all about solving seemingly unsolvable problems in healthcare, specifically, fertility care,” Raja told Medium. “After researching fertility and conception, we set out to create a natural fertility solution that could be used at one’s privacy and convenience.”
The abortion fight is truly a fight for privacy rights. By bringing the conception process back to the privacy of one’s home, it feels like a process of regaining control in a legislative climate that seems set on stripping that control away at every turn.
“I witnessed the effects of infertility on several close friends and family members,” Raja explains. “I knew personally how much they would have benefited from an accessible and scientifically sound solution, and I believed the problem was solvable.”
Much of what is to come in fertility and reproductive rights is unclear. Depending on the state where a person resides, their reproductive options could be limited as more proponents of anti-abortion laws take their chance to pass wildly restrictive legislation. Providers and patients alike are concerned about what is to come, including what it means for fertility care across the board.
A journey toward conception should begin with hope, a plan, and an abundance of patience. Fear should not be a part of the process. However, in this new world of draconian restrictions on fertility rights, it could be feared that many patients and providers find it their primary antagonist.
Couples considering IVF or other fertility treatments are anxiously watching and waiting to see what laws will be passed and how they will ultimately affect those treatments. In the meantime, planning ahead and educating oneself on options will be essential.
The reproductive journey can be isolating and stressful, but through alternatives — such as those offered by twoplus Fertility — and education, people can continue to conceive, despite the restrictive political climate. “We understand the challenges,” says Raja, “We remain dedicated to enabling couples to educate themselves and take control of their fertility.”