In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a popular way for women to have a child who have trouble conceiving in the usual fashion. A CNN story says that about 2% of births in this country are from IVF. It works this way:
In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is when an egg is removed from a woman’s body and combined with sperm inside a laboratory before being implanted, said Dr. Eve Feinberg, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.
To accomplish that, patients undergo eight to 10 days of fertility injections with hormones that help their eggs mature, said Dr. Mamie McLean, an infertility specialist at Alabama Fertility in Birmingham. Egg retrieval procedures are done either in an outpatient or hospital setting and sometimes under conscious sedation, she added.
After fertilization, doctors watch the embryos as they develop, and what Feinberg often sees is that human reproduction is really inefficient, she said.
If 10 eggs are exposed to sperm, about seven will fertilize, she said. Of those seven, only 25% to 50% will grow in the laboratory long enough to be considered a more mature embryo called a blastocyst, Feinberg said.
From there, depending on the age of the patient, the blastocyst has between a 10% and 60% likelihood of becoming a baby, she said.
Because human reproduction is so inefficient, fertilized IVF eggs are commonly frozen, one reason being that the woman then will have another chance of conceiving if the first IVF treatment fails. Those eggs only consist of a small number of cells, so in no sense could they be considered a child.
Well, unless you're the Alabama Supreme Court, which ruled recently that after some frozen eggs were accidentally destroyed, this was a serious offense, because in the court's view life begins at conception, so the small number of cells has the rights of a person.
This is a crazy conclusion. It makes no sense. So the court had to resort to some fundamentalist Christian theology to justify their wacko legal decision. A USA Today story says:
An Alabama Supreme Court's ruling has torn open a long-simmering and emotionally charged debate about whether some aspects of in vitro fertilization represent a form of abortion and should be banned under religious principles.
Christian opposition to abortion has long driven the debate over reproductive rights. Abortion opponents say life begins at conception, and even a handful of cells deserves the same legal protections as a person.
In his concurring opinion last week, Chief Justice Tom Parker, an elected Republican, invoked similar reasoning.
"In summary, the theologically based view of the sanctity of life adopted by the People of Alabama encompasses the following: (1) God made every person in His image; (2) each person therefore has a value that far exceeds the ability of human beings to calculate; and (3) human life cannot be wrongfully destroyed without incurring the wrath of a holy God, who views the destruction of His image as an affront to Himself."
This is the dream of Christian nationalists, who wrongly believe that the United States was founded on Christian principles, so our laws need to be examined through the lens of what the Christian God supposedly wants our country to become.
Which is complete and utter B.S. of course. Leaving aside the not-insignificant problem that there's no convincing evidence that any sort of God exists, much less the Christian conception of God, there's no way the Alabama Supreme Court, or anyone else, could claim to know what God wants.
Such as an end to IVF, which is a decided possibility in Alabama following the court's decision. Some Alabama legislators want to make sure that IVF remains legal in their state, but court members have said that this wouldn't matter, as the Alabama constitution would forbid it.
The only good I can see coming out of this attack on IVF is that it illustrates the craziness at the heart of Republican politics. Most Republicans say they are "pro life." Well, IVF is a way of bringing children into the world, so you'd think that Republicans would favor the procedure.
Which, I suspect, most do. Especially female Republicans. But the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party is in charge both now and for the foreseeable future.
So likely we'll see other red states following in Alabama's footsteps, instituting their own unpopular policies on IVF because, hey, a small number of frozen cells in a laboratory is a person with more rights than the couple hoping IVF will enable them to have a baby.