Do couples have the freedom to decide what happens to their embryos? According to Iowa politicians, the answer is NO. Recent legislation in Iowa seeks to give embryos Constitutional rights. This would make a smidgen of sense if embryos could communicate their wants and wishes. It’s a total smokescreen and as it stands, instead of really giving any voice to the embryos, it effectively strips intended parents of their voice and instead gives the power over to bureaucrats and politicians. Very sneaky. If you are infertile and living in Iowa, you might want to speak up and protect your rights.
Today, officers from ASRM sent a public letter to the Iowa politicians:
February 15, 2011
Representative Kraig Paulsen
Iowa House of Representatives
1305 Cress Parkway
Hiawatha, Iowa 52233
Dear Speaker Paulsen:
On behalf of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART), we are writing to express opposition to HF 153.
ASRM is a multidisciplinary organization of nearly 8,000 dedicated to the advancement of the art, science, and practice of reproductive medicine. Distinguished members of ASRM include obstetricians and gynecologists, urologists, reproductive endocrinologists, embryologists, mental health professionals and others. SART is an organization of nearly 400 member practices performing more than 95% of the assisted reproductive technology (ART) cycles in the United States. SART’s mission is to set and help maintain the highest medical and professional standards for ART. SART works with the ASRM to create practice guidelines and minimum standards of care. SART also serves as the governmental watchdog for ART and is actively involved in the collection of data outcomes from its member programs.
ASRM and SART strongly support the rights of patients to seek necessary medical treatment for diseases of the reproductive system and assistance in becoming pregnant. ASRM and SART also strongly support the availability of contraception and family planning services.
HF 153 not only threatens the reproductive rights of women, it also thwarts the ability of those who suffer from infertility to seek treatment appropriate for their disease. Because this bill gives constitutional rights to embryos, it would unduly restrict an infertile patient’s right to make decisions about embryos created as part of the in vitro fertilization process. While assisted reproductive technologies are employed to assist infertile patients in their hope of achieving a successful pregnancy outcome, embryos in excess of a patient’s clinic need may result. So too, embryos may be created that are not chromosomally suited for transfer to the patient’s uterus. While these embryos are created for the purpose of the creation of a human being, it is a biological fact that not all embryos will become human beings.
Our position is that an embryo is neither a person, nor property, but an entity deserving special respect. However, we believe that the responsibility for determining what happens to an embryo lies with the progenitors of the embryo. An embryo, in vitro or in vivo, is a cluster of cells with a unique potential to grow into a full-fledged individual. However, in human reproduction, even as undertaken without medical assistance, fewer than 20% of fertilized eggs implant in the uterus. Given the uncertainty that any particular embryo will develop to become a person, it is unreasonable and imbalanced to give constitutional rights to fertilized eggs or embryos. HF 153 would result in a requirement that all embryos be used for procreation purposes, or be kept in a frozen state forever. We question whether it is the intent of the authors of this bill to grant those frozen embryos the right to vote upon reaching 18 years in frozen animation?
HF 153 was drafted and introduced without consultation from anyone in the infertility community. We strongly urge you to oppose HF 153.
Rogerio A. Lobo, MD
R. Stan William, MD