Letters to the Editor

IVF Ruling Fails Women, Physicians, and More

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The recent ruling from Alabama’s Supreme Court and decision about frozen embryos may seem far removed from Virginia; however, I find myself intensely interested in it. Possibly even obsessed, because I was the “mom” of several embryos, some of which were frozen. One of which became my beloved 18-year old son. Without IVF and FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer) I would not have my children.

Once upon a time I would have thought frozen embryos had nothing to do with me. I had no reason to think I would be unable to conceive, and it came as a shock to learn that I would likely never become pregnant “naturally.”

Our one and only IVF cycle resulted in 10 embryos. It would have been a horrific decision to transfer (aka “implant”) all of them at once The doctors transferred two. Result: our beautiful 21 year-old daughter.

A couple of years later, after paying embryo storage fees, while our daughter grew into feisty toddlerhood, we paid a few thousand for meds to get my body ready and for the FET procedure where two more embryos were transferred. Result: a D&C because the one embryo that briefly implanted flickered, and gave up at about five weeks.

A few months later, we scraped together more money for meds and another FET and transferred another set of two. Result: Our amazing son was born. At this point, we had four embryos in storage, and we paid yet more fees until we were sure we were not having any more children. At that point we made the decision to donate the embryos to research, in the hopes of helping other infertile couples.

Please note that each transfer + associated meds cost thousands of dollars and was a burden on my body regardingdrugs that had to be injected for about four months each cycle. The freezing costs also added up. This was on top of the original exorbitant cost of IVF which my parents helped us with (for the curious, 22 years ago, it was $20K for a plan that offered us four tries. Without familial support we could not have afforded IVF and our insurance paid for none of it or the subsequent procedures).

This matter is about much more than money; but the expense and emotional/mental and physical toll from FET treatments does mean that most parents will eventually need to prioritize the little children they have at home rather than the frozen hopes in a lab. Statistically, most embryos will NOT make it to birth. Of the six we had transferred, we have two children and I love them more than I can say.

My heart breaks for those (including medical professionals) in Alabama and every other place/state who are dealing with difficult decisions related to pregnancy, abortion care, and infertility treatments, and as if that wasn’t harrowing enough, also the terror of state prosecution for the decisions they may make.

Mary Becelia