Will the Personhood Bill End IVF in Virginia?

Personhood Laws and IVFThere are some very passionate people in Virginia right now fighting against Section 7 of the House Bill l. Among them are women currently looking at using IVF as an option for becoming pregnant and representatives from The National Infertility Association (RESOLVE).

This bill is called the Personhood Bill and proposes to define life at conception.  Anything done to the embryo after conception would be considered unlawful. It has currently passed in the House of Delegates and has made its way to the state Senate. 

And although most of the discussion around the bill centers on abortion, the language contained in the bill has some women and doctors nervous.

Since the procedure of IVF involves the extraction, evaluation and implanting of eggs, those concerned with the bill believe that if a woman experienced a miscarriage following an IVF procedure for any reason, it could be considered illegal.  In addition, they fear that the doctors and women involved would be held accountable. IVF doctors worry that this would in turn bring their businesses to a halt because of the part of the bill that implies that there shouldn’t be any tampering/manipulating of an embryo for any reason.  IVF by nature is a procedure that is full of risks and uncertainties for the embryo and there are a whole host of reasons why a miscarriage following IVF may occur.  Doctors against this bill believe that the loss of an embryo would be seen as an assisted death instead of a pregnancy that wasn’t viable for some reason.

Those in favor of the bill say that women are protected by an included sentence saying that lawful-assisted conception is not impacted by the bill.  Members of RESOLVE worry that a phrase such as that is open for too much interpretation and that “lawful-assisted conception” is not a legal term recognized in any court.

At a bare minimum, this discussion makes you think about freedoms, language and the effect of one bill on many folks.  I will definitely be following this bill to see where it ends up and the impact it has on the fertility options in other states.


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By TTC veteran and mother of two, Elizabeth Andrews.