In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) Jeopardized by a New Amendment in Congress
Many people who undergo IVF treatment use FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer) during the process. FET is a common procedure when multiple eggs are retrieved during in vitro fertilization (IVF) and then frozen for use later. The decision to freeze embryos is both medical and personal. Some of them include:
· Insurance that covers fresh cycles may not count a FET so using frozen embryos may increase the odds.
· Use of FET can also reduce the physical stress at the same time decreasing the cost. The possibility of a fresh egg retrieval and freezing excess embryos for use later can significantly reduce the cost of multiple tries to conceive.
· Use of embryos at a later date may be more optimal for success (pregnancy and a live birth) due to a variety of medical situations (e.g. ovarian hyperstimulation, military deployment, procedures that may not be in sync with the IVF cycle, etc.)
· Compromised conditions during the cycle ( endometriosis, or lack of developing conductive lining of the endometrium, polyps, and other conditions.)
· A cancer diagnosis is another reason first to harvest eggs and then freeze embryos for use after completion of chemotherapy. One cannot overstate the importance to preserve fertility for a couple undergoing cancer treatment. The IVF and FET process may be their only chance at conception. Even more important, the idea of having a chance for success after treatment gives hope for the future.
· Use of FET minimizes the chance of high-risk multiple pregnancies
INCIID’s IVF Scholarship program helps couples with financial need, medical infertility and no insurance for IVF by providing an IVF scholarship. We help many different families including military families. Our military families serve and come home to find our government does not provide for reproductive treatment even when in service to their country they sustained catastrophic reproductive injuries that preclude them from conception without treatment (usually IVF).
Over the past year, there was a push for an appropriations bill to provide care and treatment for Vets who experienced these injuries resulting in an inability to conceive without appropriate treatment. One would think this to be a “no-brainer.” Unfortunately, there are people who would limit reproductive choice and put IVF in the same category as abortion. INCIID over the years received many harassing communications about IVF, equating it to the destruction of “God’s plan” and to abortion on demand. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In jeopardy now is the compassionate momentum for treating these military families. An amendment offered by Representative Andy Harris (R-MD) states:
“The amendment specifies that any federal funding provided in any act of law may only be used to provide In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatments if such treatments do not result in the destruction of viable human embryos before embryo transfer.” Read the Amendment Here
The amendment tacked onto a separate bill by Representative Harris threatens to curtail IVF for veterans by prohibiting any act that would result in “the destruction of viable human embryos before transfer.” This amendment and bill quietly passed (29 to 21) just before Congress recessed in the Summer. What does this mean? Any act that could destroy embryos might include a variety procedures. For example, men who have no sperm, low motility or poor morphology due to their injuries may need Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI). One sperm is injected into an egg and could result in a nonviability. What happens if during IVF 8 eggs are retrieved and then fertilize? Does this amendment require all eight embryos transferred at one time? A transfer of 8 embryos into a woman’s uterus is malpractice, and no reproductive specialist would do this. Freezing an embryo can also kill it, so if doctors cannot discard embryos, and they cannot freeze them what do they do with them? The way this amendment is written not only threatens FET but also IVF.
Last April both the House and the Senate committees passed appropriations bills that provide money for ART (Assisted Reproductive Technologies). But the bills became mired with in-fighting over unrelated partisan issues. This amendment may set a dangerous precedent not just for government funding but possibly a stepping stone to curtail treatment for civilians as well.
According to the New York Times, INCIID Professional and Advisory Board Member said, Owen K Davis of Cornell said, “ Clearly, the amendment makes it impossible to thaw embryos at all, which thwarts any individual couples’ family-building goals. Importantly, the consequence of this outrageous amendment will be dangerous medical situations that result from doctors being required to transfer all created embryos at once,” Dr. Davis said. “The result: significant incidences in multiple-birth rates, high-risk pregnancies and birth outcomes that include long-term morbidity and disability to children born prematurely.”
This amendment could likely be a stepping stone to outlawing reproductive technologies. This amendment and any and all attempts to curtail family-building medically necessary for veterans who have already given so much are just plain wrong.
Reproductive treatment is a personal decision between couples and their doctors. Please take a look at our short video of babies who were once frozen embryos.
Read more about the bill here. http://appropriations.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=394649
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