The IVF Controversy Takes Center Stage

What’s happening: In vitro fertilization (IVF) has become a hot button issue following the Alabama Supreme Court ruling that embryos are entitled to personhood. This means IVF clinics could be sued for wrongful death if fertilized embryos are destroyed on purpose or by accident.

  • The numbers: While fertility treatments are pervasive in the U.S., less than two percent of American women have undergone an IVF procedure.

How it works: IVF involves the creation of a large number of fertilized embryos so that one can be chosen to safely plant into the uterus and begin developing. Because it can be difficult to find a viable embryo, it can result in the creation and destruction of many.

Personhood: Central to this debate is when life begins - and Americans are conflicted. For example, a third of Americans who believe life begins at conception also believe abortion should be legal in all or some cases.

  • Dive deeper: Among Republicans, just over half believe life begins at conception. Those who hold this belief are concerned about the possibility of fertilized embryos being destroyed during the IVF process.

Why it matters: The overturning of Roe v Wade has opened the door to personhood laws which may eliminate fertility procedures like IVF. Despite causing headaches for the GOP, most of the leadership stands behind IVF, including Donald Trump who says he will “strongly support” it.

What’s next: Both Democrats and Republicans have competing bills pending before Congress. The Democrat bill would establish a right to IVF services and the Republican one would recognize personhood from conception at the federal level. Neither are likely to pass.