Personhood doesn’t ban IVF, a response to Atlee Breland

IVF Snowflake Baby

Atlee Breland, of Parents Against Personhood, offers mostly falsehoods in her latest post “Personhood cannot permit IVF exceptions”. First, she offers a straw man that Personhood supporters claim that they “will just amend the personhood statutes to make exceptions for [IVF], and pass personhood to ban elective abortion.” Unsurprisingly, she doesn’t provide any link to support this assertion.

On the contrary, Personhood supporters don’t think that IVF should be immune from treating human beings ethically. Her rebuttal of the straw man is correct “that under personhood, all embryos would have equal protection of the laws (emphasis in original)”.

She writes that even an abortion “life exception” undermines the concept of equal protection of the law:

The Roe Court said this, but the Roe Court was wrong. Allowing for life-saving medical treatment doesn’t imply that unborn children are not persons with a right to life, even when such medical treatment has the foreseeable result of the removal and death of the unborn child. Pregnant women have a right to life (and thereby a right to self-defense) that is not subordinated to unborn child’s right to life. Ms. Breland’s (and Justice Blackmun’s) mere assertion that “personhood cannot make exceptions for women’s lives” is clearly wrong. See Prenatal Personhood, can mothers get life-saving medical treatment?

She continues:

This isn’t necessarily true. For example, Louisiana law makes it clear that Personhood would not ban cryopreservation. Louisiana law recognizes that:

RS 9:125

Yet, the law allows for cryopreservation and in vitro clinics in Louisiana still cryopreserve embryos. It appears that Louisiana law is precedent for recognition of embryonic Personhood yet allowing cryopreservation.

Ms. Breland wrongly suggests that “cryopreservation is a vital part of the IVF process”. The good news is that freezing embryos is not necessary in theory or in practice. Freezing a woman’s eggs is a better way to conduct IVF. The eggs can be fertilized as needed without requiring the freezing of living human beings. Any leftover eggs can be discarded or donated to others.

Dr. Jeffrey Boldt, Scientific Director of Assisted Fertility Services in Indianapolis, says freezing eggs has produced “pregnancy rates that rival those obtained with either frozen-embryo transfer or fresh IVF.”

Ms. Breland suggests that “infertility doctors and lab staff could become criminally and civilly liable for injury or damage to embryos”. In theory, but reality tells a different story. You’ll notice that Ms. Breland doesn’t provide one case to support her assertion regarding criminal liability. The Louisiana law that recognizes embryos as “juridical persons” has been in place since 1986, yet there has not been one instance where an IVF technician has been charged criminally for embryos under his care.

Regardless of your view on Personhood, IVF clinics should be required to treat with care the human beings they are helping to create. Shouldn’t parents have that confidence and assurance? Should parents have no recourse? By lumping together practically nonexistent criminal liability with reasonable civil liability, Ms. Breland appears to be dealing in scare tactics.

In conclusion, Ms. Breland is wrong throughout her piece. A Personhood bill doesn’t preclude life-saving medical treatment. Nor does it ban or “effectively ban” IVF. It only requires that IVF clinics treat the tiny human beings in their charge ethically with reasonable appropriate care just as they do for other patients.

See also In vitro can respect the right to life, CNN interview makes it plain — IVF needs to be regulated to protect life and Freezing ovarian tissue to maintain fertility.


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Personhood doesn’t ban IVF, a response to Atlee Breland