Fertility doctors and academics who study the fertility legal landscape told CNN there is grave uncertainty — both about how abortion laws already in place will be interpreted and how local legislators and prosecutors might seek to push the boundaries, freed from precedents that have effectively shielded the fertility process from government interference.
This lack of clarity, it is feared, will affect the treatments doctors are prepared to offer IVF patients and the decisions people will have to make about how to continue growing their families.
“Overturning Roe v. Wade will have wide and deep ramifications for the fertility industry. The opinion includes numerous references to ‘unborn human being’, ‘potential life’ and ‘life of the ‘unborn child’. Much of this language – and the logic behind it – applies to embryos,” said Adam Wolf, fertility attorney at Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane Conway & Wise, in a statement Friday.
“Fertility clinics will face a flood of wrongful death claims when clinics reject embryos without permission,” Wolf added.
IVF clinics usually use the genetic material of two people to create multiple embryos because they don’t know which ones will develop at the right stage or which ones will result in a successful pregnancy.
Wolf said he was concerned that clinics and freezer manufacturers could be sued for discarding embryos or if a freezer containing embryos malfunctioned.
“When fertility clinics accidentally reject embryos – which happens far too often – they destroy potential life,” he said. “Could fertility clinics and their embryologists face homicide or manslaughter charges for their misconduct?
Dr. Carolina Sueldo, a fertility specialist who is also board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, San Francisco-Fresno, told CNN on Friday that there was also concern that “personality bills would be the next to follow with the belief that life begins with fertilization.”
“This would have a huge impact on how infertility treatments are provided to patients in these states. These treatments are not just for infertility, but also for genetic diseases (and) recurrent miscarriages,” said Sueldo said.
CNN’s Sonia Moghe contributed to this report.