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Published on February 27th, 2017 | by Jill Clark

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5 Reasons My IVF Procedure is More Pro-Life than Your Abortion Rally

The Personhood Bill, HR586, states that a person’s life begins at fertilization. If passed, this federal bill would give equal human rights—personhood status—to microscopic embryos and fetuses. As a result, it could make IVF procedures illegal in the United States, since some embryos used during IVF could be “harmed” or discarded.

The sheer mention of this possibility leaves me with my panties in a bunch. It’s not just because I struggled with infertility and have two healthy babies through IVF. It’s also because it has become so clear to me that there are a lot of people out there who have absolutely no freaking idea what some women go through—both physically and emotionally—to actually create life—life that is, by the way, very much wanted.

Just three short years ago, my world looked a lot different. I was in the throes of infertility treatment. And as anyone who’s been there before knows, it sucks. But what sucks even more is when outsiders to that very personal infertility journey ask questions like this:

“So you’re going through IVF treatments? How do you feel about discarding fertilized eggs?”

“Oh, well, it’s really no big deal. I don’t feel any different than I did when I had my last abortion.”

Nothing like a little shock factor to shut up the ulterior-motive types (by the way, the above is most certainly an #alternativefact about me). But in all seriousness, this is a real question I received, not just from one person, but from SEVERAL. And here’s what I wish I could say to those people—those proponents of the Personhood Bill—who feel it’s their job to be some kind of self-righteous moral police over women’s bodies and choices (especially when many of them have never actually been in a situation that required these kinds of difficult decisions).

“Hope” by Stephanie Sarles / Creative Commons License

  1. Infertility is hard enough as it is. And IVF, well it’s a doozy! People of all shapes, sizes, races, and political and religious creeds struggle with infertility. And some are vehemently pro-life. I have met countless parents-to-be who have gone through the process of egg retrieval and fertilization who would never consider abortion an option, and some who may have previously considered discarding embryos unethical — until of course, they were put in that situation. So to the guy holding up his incredibly offensive sign telling me I’m going to hell, maybe you could actually take the time to care about and advocate for the lives of the women who are agonizing over these decisions. It’s not like we wake up in the morning all chipper and say, “Gee, I think I’ll have an abortion today,” or “Gee, I think I’d like to be diagnosed infertile!” No. Instead many of us are still grappling with the extreme trauma of rape, incest, lack of access to healthcare, miscarriage, genetic disorder, or rare health conditions that led us to this scary and complicated place. The actual “pro-life” thing to do would be to sit with these women and hear their stories or advocate for laws and programs that actually help these women, such as preventing the need for abortion through increased and affordable access to contraception and better sex education for vulnerable populations. By doing so, you’ll probably see abortions decrease by and large.
  1. Being pro-life should involve caring for ALL life, not just the lives of the unborn. This should also include providing, preserving, and improving quality of life for both the born and unborn. Don’t even get me started on how hypocritical the Republican party or Religious Right’s platform is on this area. But yeah, you go ahead and keep doing you. Don’t worry about all those refugees blocked at the border, black people shot by police, or the homeless dying in the streets.
  1. Here’s how the above line of thinking plays out when it comes to my IVF procedure. Had I decided not to undergo IVF, I may not have given birth to two beautiful, healthy children who have an extremely good chance at thriving. We can provide a healthy and financially and emotionally stable home for these children—a strong quality of life—which is not the case for all unborn fetuses. But nevermind that fact. What your Personhood Bill is basically telling me is that my wanted children, who I conceived, carried, and delivered because of IVF—their lives actually don’t matter. No. Instead, you think they should never even have had the chance to be born at all.
  1. Many people who undergo IVF have leftover embryos. And they are often able to impact countless others’ quality of life by donating them to stem cell research. This research is actually SAVING lives. Sounds pretty pro-life to me!
  1. Some people end up with a lot of leftover embryos—and by a lot I mean five, sometimes more. Hypothetically speaking, let’s say I had five embryos leftover—five over and above the twins I already have. Had I decided to transfer ALL of them into my body, I may have ended up with as many as SEVEN children. (Side note: because of the topic of this very article, and because conception should be a private matter, we’ve decided not to share if we have any leftover embryos, how many, or what our intentions would be for said embryos).

Erin Stevenson O’Connor / Creative Commons License

Hypothetically, these are seven children who wouldn’t have had the same quality of life compared to the two embryos we chose to transfer. We’d need to win the lottery to afford all that college tuition. And let’s not forget the environmental impact of that many American children (oh wait, science…alternative facts…).

While I’m not saying it’s necessarily wrong to have that many children (or maybe I might be, since we’re getting judgy?), financially and emotionally it is extremely difficult for the majority of families to raise that many children—ours included. Therefore, this option also seems extremely irresponsible, and dare I say unethical.

But none of that is really the point. The point is, this Personhood Bill actually threatens the potential for life. People who go through IVF are financially and emotionally ready to be parents. And based on the amount of needles these women have to stick in their body every day (yeah it’s like…a lot), it’s clear they are already fighting for their unborn children. In fact, I’d probably call this sheer act of self-mutilation in the name of procreation more pro-life than any action I’ve seen in the news or in person from “anti-abortion” protestors.

So while all of you who are “pro-life” might have the best of intentions, just remember, all of us infertile people are over here like, “All I want to do is have a freaking baby! And who are you to tell me their life doesn’t matter?”

 

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About the Author

Jill Clark

Jill Clark is director of public engagement at Eden Theological Seminary and owner/writer of JDC Communications Management. She lives in St. Louis with her husband and twins.



2 Responses to 5 Reasons My IVF Procedure is More Pro-Life than Your Abortion Rally

  1. Sarah-Jane Ethan says:

    As a woman unable to conceive myself, I am really interested to know when/why you discounted adoption?

    Did you feel that you could not love an adopted, accept or get excited about a baby if it wasn’t your own DNA? What drove you to feel that it had to be your own biological child? I am genuinely interested as I do not understand.

    I feel like a mother without a child so for me it is not about needing to create a little mini-me rather than lavishing my love on a child in need.

    I do not understand why it is so important to create your own biological children in order to create the loving home you spoke of. Surely giving that loving home to a child who is already alive is a better way to care for those already born as you spoke of in this article?

    For me it seems the true “pro-life” solution. There are so many babies in the world who need loving parents and if a couple are “financially and emotionally” ready to be parents why would they not open their home to a child who desperately needs it?
    Why invest so much time and money into trying to create a new child, just for the sake of reproducing yourself, as apposed to giving that love and energy to a child already in need of a mother?

    I am also concerned over your reasoning for not implanting all seven (hypothetical number) embryos is that you could not give them a good quality of life. Is this not the reason any woman gives to justify abortion, because the child would disrupt their finances, create strain or they could not give it a good quality of life? I have read your article with an open mind as this is a subject that is obviously extremely personal to me too but the similarity of reasons for discarding the additional embryos and the dismissal of adoption for children already born who desperately need the loving home you were able to offer, seems disjointed with a pro-life argument?

    I would love to know your thoughts as this is a topic I am looking into for my own benefit?

  2. Alina Stefanescu Alina Stefanescu says:

    Thank you so much for speaking into this silence Jill. Thank you for speaking into that shame constructed around the womb and the desire to bear children on your own terms. The Personhood Bill is terrifying for so many reasons, including what it does to women who miscarry children and what it does to any womb-bearing mammal who is suddenly expected to serve as a vessel for the delivery of someone else’s dream. The decision to bear a child should always be a choice and not a violation. And that includes adoption.

    I think the phrase “pro-life” should be replaced by “pro-coerced-birth” so we can really get down to the brutal honesty of the political position that fetishizes chaining females and forcing them to give birth.

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