How the Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade could affect the fertility industry
Fertility doctors and academics who study the legal landscape around fertility told CNN there is grave uncertainty — both about how abortion laws already on the books will be interpreted and about how lawmakers and local prosecutors may seek to push the envelope, freed from the precedents that have effectively shielded the fertility process from government meddling.
That lack of clarity, it is feared, will affect the treatments doctors are willing to offer IVF patients and the decisions people will have to make about how to pursue growing their families.
“Overturning Roe v. Wade will have vast, far-reaching ramifications for the fertility industry. The opinion includes numerous references to ‘the unborn human being,’ ‘potential life,’ and ‘the life of the unborn.’ Much of that language — and the logic behind it — applies to embryos,” said Adam Wolf, a fertility attorney for Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane Conway & Wise, in a statement Friday.
“Fertility clinics will face a flood of wrongful-death claims when the clinics discard embryos without authorization,” Wolf added.
IVF clinics typically use two people’s genetic material to create multiple embryos because they don’t know which ones will grow to the right stage or which ones will result in a successful pregnancy.
Wolf said he fears clinics and freezer manufacturers could face criminal charges for discarding embryos, or if a freezer holding embryos malfunctions.
“When fertility clinics accidentally discard embryos — which happens far too often — they are destroying potential life,” he said. “Might fertility clinics and their embryologists face homicide or manslaughter charges for their misconduct? When the manufacturer of a freezer that holds embryos goes kaput, that freezer company has destroyed potential human life.”
Dr. Carolina Sueldo, a fertility specialist who is also certified in both obstetrics and gynecology at University of California San Francisco-Fresno, told CNN Friday there is also a concern that “personhood bills would be next to follow with the belief that life begins at fertilization.”
“This would dramatically impact the way infertility treatments are provided to patients in those states. These treatments are not only for infertility, but also for genetic diseases (and) recurrent miscarriages, ” Sueldo said.
CNN’s Sonia Moghe contributed to this report.
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