Personhood Amendment Would Ban In-Vitro Fertilization, Physicians, Families Speak Out


Update, September 30, 2010, 2:20pm EST: Amendment 62 proponents lost their case to change ballot language in the Colorado state voter’s guide, the “Blue Book.” Advocates, hoping to pass the extreme anti-choice, “personhood” amendment, claimed the language in the guide misinformed voters about the impact of the proposed measure. They say they will appeal.

One in eight couples uses in-vitro fertilization and other forms of assisted reproductive technology to have children, notes Dr. Ruben Alvero in a Denver Daily News article today.

Yet Colorado voters are being asked to pass the so-called “Personhood Amendment,” Amendment 62, which could essentially block couples seeking to have children from utilizing in-vitro fertilization.

Yesterday, physicians and families – especially those who have been helped immensely by the use of in-vitro fertilization, spoke up about the dangers of Amendment 62.

Jim Burness, the father of a 27-month-old daughter who was conceived through in-vitro fertilization, also shared his story.

“Right after our wedding, my father-in-law and my mother both passed away,” Burness said. “As a result, my wife and I had a strong desire to have a child that would have a biological link to those we lost. In this day and age, I am astounded how any group can think they have a right to dictate whether my daughter can have a biological sibling.”

Backers of the initiative have filed a lawsuit to change the language in the state voter’s guide (the “Blue Book”) as they believe the current wording shares misinformation about the impact of the measure. As Wendy Norris and others have covered extensively on RH Reality Check, the Personhood Amendment seeks to imbue fertilized eggs with the full legal rights of citizens. Theresa Erickson, writing on The American Fertility Association’s web site, notes

“…the groups backing the amendment are attempting to stop all abortions while effectively banning abortions for victims of rape and incest, banning abortions to save the life of the woman, banning certain forms of birth control (such as IUDs, which inhibit the implantation of an embryo), and banning in-vitro fertilization and other forms of medical research.  Furthermore, in its current form this amendment would effectively restrict a woman and her doctor the ability to obtain and provide proper medical care – instead, it could potentially criminalize the actions of the doctor and his or her patient.”

So, it’s odd, isn’t it, that anti-choice blogger and speaker, Jill Stanek, decries the wonders of in-vitro fertlization on her blog today? Stanek blogs about the story of Grace and Luke “frozen when they were 8 cell embryos” and adopted by a Christian couple who “had gestated and given birth to their other embryos” (huh?).

But how were the “8 cell embryos” created in the first place?  Through in-vitro fertilization.

Though Stanek claims that the couple who “adopted” the embryos were using discarded embryos and so, presumably, were doing their good deed by saving them, it’s worthwhile to note that the couple in California who were receiving fertility help, initially, would never have been able to conceive without the help of this assisted reproductive technology.

Amendment 62 would take that option away from couples in Colorado.

“Amendment 62 would deny those couples a medical solution to their infertility and a vital option by which to build their families,” Alvero said.

Stanek also notes that pro-lifers are opposed to destruction of embryos for scientific purposes on the basis that they are “unique, innocent human beings” yet physicians at yesterday’s rally warned that signficant stem cell research on Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Diabetes and other conditions would certainly be halted if Amendment 62 passes. Many in the anti-choice community also are opposed to Personhood amendments as they are simply too extreme. Robin Marty notes just how blatantly bizarre and offensive Amendment 62′s arguments have become.

Ob/Gyn, Dr. Andrew Ross, told a heart-wrenching story at the rally yesterday of his wife’s miscarriage and the potential for her “uterus to become a crime scene” under Amendment 62; not far-fetched, as we’ve seen this happen in Mexico and El Salvador.

A hearing on the Personhood Amendment’s Blue Book language is scheduled for this Thursday morning in Denver.

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  • jill-stanek

    Amie, to clarify the section of my post you were unclear about, I wrote this:

    Grace and Luke were frozen when they were 8 cell embryos. They were among several who were “created” in 2003 by a CA couple receiving fertility help to conceive a baby.

     

    After the couple had gestated and given birth to their other embryos, Grace and Luke remained frozen until Alex and Lori, committed Christians, adopted them.

     

    You’re right that I’m not a fan of IVF. Some reasons:

    • The synthetic hormonal injection/egg removal process is dangerous to women
    • embryos are eugenically screened for perfection and destroyed if perceived not perfect; emerging is the phenomenon of screening for “designer babies” as well as babies of a desired gender, usually male
    • a significant portion of embryos die when implanted
    • those who are implanted and don’t die lead oftentimes to dangerous and unnatural multiple gestation, which oftentimes leads to “selective reduction” abortions or loss of all babies, since the reproductive system of human mothers is not equipped to gestate litters
    • “leftover” embryos are either left in frozen suspension, destroyed, or touted as a reason to promote unethical and completely fruitless human embryo experimentation

     

    But it should not seem odd to you that I would celebrate the adoption of two “leftover” embryos, as I did in my post. Once these children are created, even if in petri dishes or test tubes, pro-lifers of course do not want them to die.

    All that said, you were incorrect to state the CO Personhood 62 Amendment would outlaw IVF. From the A62 site: “The CO Personhood Amendment would not prohibit in vitro fertilization, instead it would force medical scientists to come up with ethical alternatives to the mass production and mass extermination of human beings at the hands of fertility clinics.”

    All this means is that if A62 passes, CO IVF clinics will have to adopt IVF laws similar to Italy’s and other European countries. This law stipulates only three eggs may be fertilized at one time and all three embryos must be simultaneously implanted, i.e., no freezing of embryos.

    One final note on human embryo experimentation, as I said previously, it has proven not only fruitless but dangerous, since embryonic cells uncontrollably grow into tumors.

    So your statement that there has been “signficant [insert "embryonic" here - Isn't that what you meant? Why didnt' you specify? You weren't trying to muddy the waters, were you?] stem cell research on Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Diabetes and other conditions is utterly false.

    Rather, the successful research and treatment is with adult stem cells. If you don’t believe me, perhaps you’ll believe what Dr. Oz told Oprah and Michael J. Fox last year on the Oprah Show.

  • forced-birth-rape

    ~Jill Stanek you do not give a damn about women!~

  • saltyc

    only three eggs may be fertilized at one time and all three embryos must be simultaneously implanted, i.e., no freezing of embryos.

    Three embryos implanted at once?? You mean you have to have triplets, or is there a high chance of one or more dying after implantation? What a callous risking of human life. Better to suspend their development in a frozen state until a safer place than a uterus is discovered for these people.

  • dianahsieh

    That Amendment 62 would kill IVF is just one — of many — reasons to oppose it.  For more details, the Coalition for Secular Government recently published a policy paper by Ari Armstrong and me on Colorado’s Amendment 62 and similar “personhood” measures: “The ‘Personhood’ Movement Is Anti-Life: Why It Matters that Rights Begin at Birth, Not Conception.” 

    You can find the PDF, HTML, and E-Book versions via this page: http://www.seculargovernment.us/a62.shtml

    The paper discusses the current state of the growing “personhood” movement, as well as the effects of a “personhood” law on abortion, birth control, in vitro fertilization, and stem-cell research.  It offers a strong defense of abortion rights, arguing that the nature of rights and the biological facts of pregnancy entail that rights cannot begin until birth.  And it discusses why “personhood” measures violate the separation of church and state.

  • prochoiceferret

    The synthetic hormonal injection/egg removal process is dangerous to women

     

    Good thing that the woman’s informed consent is required, no?

     

    embryos are eugenically screened for perfection and destroyed if perceived not perfect; emerging is the phenomenon of screening for “designer babies” as well as babies of a desired gender, usually male

     

    Why yes—IVF, like cars, crowbars, and tequila, can be misused.

     

    a significant portion of embryos die when implanted

     

    Medical technology not perfect; film at 11!

     

    those who are implanted and don’t die lead oftentimes to dangerous and unnatural multiple gestation, which oftentimes leads to “selective reduction” abortions or loss of all babies, since the reproductive system of human mothers is not equipped to gestate litters

     

    So I take it you are in favor of “selective reduction” abortions when a pregnant woman has “dangerous” but not-so-unnatural multiple gestations without IVF?

     

    “leftover” embryos are either left in frozen suspension, destroyed, or touted as a reason to promote unethical and completely fruitless human embryo experimentation

     

    Suspension or destroyed: Who gives a rat’s patootie?

     

    Human embyro experimentation: This is already pretty tightly regulated. Embryos that are used in research are not allowed to gestate for longer than (IIRC) 14 days. And I doubt people would be doing the research in the first place if they felt it were “completely fruitless.”

     

    But it should not seem odd to you that I would celebrate the adoption of two “leftover” embryos, as I did in my post. Once these children are created, even if in petri dishes or test tubes, pro-lifers of course do not want them to die.

     

    Unless they are female and they grow up and become pregnant, of course. Then the whole dying thing isn’t such a big deal.

     

    All that said, you were incorrect to state the CO Personhood 62 Amendment would outlaw IVF. From the A62 site: “The CO Personhood Amendment would not prohibit in vitro fertilization, instead it would force medical scientists to come up with ethical alternatives to the mass production and mass extermination of human beings at the hands of fertility clinics.”

     

    So, in other words, it would outlaw IVF.

     

    All this means is that if A62 passes, CO IVF clinics will have to adopt IVF laws similar to Italy’s and other European countries. This law stipulates only three eggs may be fertilized at one time and all three embryos must be simultaneously implanted, i.e., no freezing of embryos.

     

    Until, of course, someone decides that “three embryos” is “mass production of human beings.” (Hell, given the bizarro-world nature of your camp, you’d probably up and decide one day that creating more than one human being in a nine-month period is “mass production of human beings.”)

     

    One final note on human embryo experimentation, as I said previously, it has proven not only fruitless but dangerous, since embryonic cells uncontrollably grow into tumors.

     

    I’m sure that embryos everywhere are dismayed to learn that they will uncontrollably grow into tumors.

     

    So your statement that there has been “signficant [insert "embryonic" here - Isn't that what you meant? Why didnt' you specify? You weren't trying to muddy the waters, were you?] stem cell research on Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Diabetes and other conditions is utterly false.

     

    So I take it you have citations to peer-reviewed studies that conclude that embryonic stem-cell research is totally futile because of the uncontrollable-tumor thing?

     

    Rather, the successful research and treatment is with adult stem cells. If you don’t believe me, perhaps you’ll believe what Dr. Oz told Oprah and Michael J. Fox last year on the Oprah Show.

     

    I’m sure you believed James Frey when he spoke on her show, too.

  • prochoicekatie

    All medical procedures carry some risk. All medication carries some risk. Many health conditions carry risks. Including child-bearing.

    Yes, IVF carries risks. These are risks women are FULLY aware of and often willing to take. Much like… women who get pregnant. There are risks with pregnancy, but if you want to have children, you accept them. There are risks to having strep throat. There are also risks associated with prescription drugs used to treat strep throat. And people are informed and accept those risks. 

    What really irks me about Jill is that she assumes she has superior knowledge to everyone else. Then she flouts the data she does have, often in a manipulative context (see the PP stats article), and expects everyone to accept her position. The problem is people don’t disagree with Jill because of a lack of information. I personally disagree with her because the arguments she presents for almost anything are NEVER enough, in my opinion, to argue for taking away someone’s choice to do something.

    If you want to wax poetic on the physical dangers of abortion or IVF (however small these risks may actually be) that’s fine. Just put those risks in context, use accurate research, and then LET ME DECIDE FOR MYSELF. Don’t make it illegal because you think the risks are too high. If they’re too high for you, then don’t use IVF. But don’t make by decision for me. 

    And informing people about something and taking away their choice to do something are different.