News (USA)

Influential right-wing group releases alarming policy proposals to restrict IVF

A doctor with embryos
A doctor with embryos Photo: Shutterstock

The Heritage Foundation – a right-wing, anti-LGBTQ+ think tank planning to play a large role in the next GOP presidential administration – recently released a set of preliminary policy recommendations for Congress on regulating in vitro fertilization (IVF).

The eight recommendations were included in a March 19 blog post by Senior Research Associate Emma Waters, who praised the Alabama Supreme Court’s ruling that embryos created through IVF have the same legal rights as children and the fact that the decision means patients can sue for the wrongful death of a child if an embryo is mishandled or destroyed.

She outlined her beliefs in the “profound moral issues with the way IVF is practiced in the U.S.,” explaining that too many embryos are created per cycle and that the widely used pre-implantation genetic testing (PGT) to screen for genetic conditions is a form of eugenics.

Many LGBTQ+ people rely on services like IVF to build their families. It is the most common method of assisted reproduction.

Operating under the notion that embryos are children, Waters’s first suggestion to Congress is to “impose a standard of care in IVF clinics to prevent the wanton or careless destruction of embryonic human beings.” Waters criticized the Alabama legislature for passing a law in response to the Supreme Court ruling that shields IVF providers from civil and criminal liability. The law did not, however, address the fundamental issue of whether frozen embryos should be considered children under Alabama law.

Multiple embryos are produced for IVF and are necessary to ensure a pregnancy. Embryos often don’t survive the IVF process, don’t always have high reproductive potential, and often fail to implant in the uterus. Multiple embryos is necessary for IVF to be successful in producing a baby.

Waters claimed the law does not protect the interests of the parents or the “embryonic life,” and in her policy recommendation, said, “the law should recognize the gravity of the harm and allow parents proper compensation under the wrongful death provision.”

The other suggestions include limiting the number of embryos that can be created per round of IVF, only allowing one embryo to be transferred into an intended parent at a time, banning anonymous egg and sperm donations, banning PGT testing, requiring full informed consent from prospective parents, and funding more research into treating infertility until IVF becomes a true “last resort.”

Media Matters described these proposals as “seemingly benign” but nonetheless “meant to heighten the barrier of entry to securing IVF procedures.” The progressive media watchdog group likened it to the TRAP Laws that impose harsh regulatory restrictions on abortion clinics to make it as difficult as possible for them to operate.

The Heritage Foundation is behind Project 2025, a lengthy set of extreme far-right policy recommendations for the next GOP administration.

The plan includes reinstating several Trump-era policies and stacking the administration with Trump loyalists. The 900-page policy book reportedly includes a recommendation to remove the terms “reproductive health,” “abortion,” and “reproductive rights” from all government laws, regulations, policies, rules, and grants.

Project 2025 also contains a slew of suggestions for dismantling LGBTQ+ rights, especially trans rights. The proposals include removing all terms related to gender and sexual identity from all federal laws, regulations, contracts, grants, and rules, as well as for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to stop all research on gender identity unless it is focused on forcing kids to conform to their sex assigned at birth. It also defines gender-affirming care as child abuse and calls for banning trans folks from the military.

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