Fertility Treatments Could Be Affected by State Abortion Bans
In states where abortion has been banned, fertility treatments could also be affected, even if unintentionally. If the wording of the abortion bans is not careful, it could make some fertility treatments illegal and make it more difficult for people to access them.
How Abortion Bans Could Affect IVF
In-vitro fertilization (IVF) is a process where eggs are harvested from a woman’s ovaries and fertilized with sperm in a laboratory. The resulting embryos are then implanted into the woman’s uterus. It is often used when a woman has difficulty getting pregnant.
IVF can be expensive and emotional, and it is not always successful. But for some couples who have trouble conceiving, it is their best hope of having a child.
In states that have banned abortion, the wording of the bans could make IVF illegal. This is because the process of IVF often results in extra embryos, which are typically frozen for later use or discarded. If these extra embryos are considered “unborn human beings” under state law, then their destruction would be considered abortion and illegal.
For example, in Oklahoma and Louisiana, fertilized eggs cannot be terminated, though in the latter state, freezing them is permitted. Conversely, IVF has been specifically exempted from abortion bans in South Carolina and Alabama.
However, many bans in other states have not stated whether or not they would apply to IVF, which raises more questions. For example, one expert pointed out that state abortion laws might not apply to IVF because they refer to embryos in the context of pregnancy, while IVF takes place outside of the womb.
Another concern is multiple implantations. In many cases, more than one embryo is implanted into the uterus in the hopes that at least one will survive and result in a pregnancy. Sometimes, multiple embryos implant and the woman becomes pregnant with twins, triplets, or more. As a result, the doctor may have to remove some of the embryos, a process called “selective reduction,” to reduce the risk of miscarriage and other complications.
If embryos are considered “unborn human beings” under state law, then selective reduction could be considered abortion and would be illegal. This could make IVF much riskier for women. Some have said that reducing the number of implantations might be a solution, but this would decrease the chances of IVF being successful.
Some experts expect to see some changes with fertility treatments in terms of available options and outcomes, as well as the patient experience and expectations. Depending on how abortion bans are worded, some fertility clinics might change their approach, while others might move to other states.
Employers and Fertility Benefits
According to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management 24% of employers provided IVF coverage in 2022 compared to 25% in 2018. Also in 2022, 24% offered support for other fertility treatments compared to 27% in 2018.
In other words, insurance companies and employers haven’t gone out of their way to help women get the fertility treatment they need. However, the slight decline cannot be attributed to the abortion bans since they have only been recently implemented.
Therefore, we may see a further decline in fertility benefits as more companies become aware of the potential implications of the bans, including an increase in the cost of these treatments. It could also lead to more high-risk pregnancies, which would be more expensive for employers to cover.
Employers may also experience higher turnover rates as employees leave to go to states where they can get the fertility treatments they need. This could be especially true for local companies that don’t allow remote work.
Furthermore, many women may decide against fertility treatments like IVF if any intervention is restricted or if the process becomes even more challenging.
Experts believe that the next eighteen months will see a lot of legislation and litigation as the impact of these abortion bans is felt across the country. Therefore, it will be a while before we know how these bans will affect fertility treatments.
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