Future of IVF, other fertility treatments uncertain after Roe’s cancellation
LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) – In the days following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, who puts the legality of abortions in the hands of states, many are wondering about the future.
In Nebraska, abortion is still legal up to 20 weeks gestation, but it’s likely that lawmakers, either in a special session or in January, will introduce abortion-banning bills that often encompass other fertility-related topics. Topics such as in vitro fertilization, access to procedures to terminate pregnancies when the fetus is no longer considered viable, etc.
Lincoln’s Stasi Grenfell dreams of expanding her family. She has two boys whom she conceived naturally but shortly after the birth of the second child, she was diagnosed with endometriosis.
“I tried to conceive for two and a half years and in that time I had three defeats,” Grenfell said. “The first was a damaged egg, where I had surgery to remove the pregnancy – that was in 2021. At the end of 2021, I had two consecutive miscarriages.”
Now she is undergoing in vitro fertilization. She is far enough along in the process to consider transferring an embryo to her womb in July, along with another embryo that is on ice for which she currently has no plans.
She said reading stories about women undergoing IVF in states where abortion laws are being put in place leaves her uneasy about the future.
“I believe it’s like 2% of our population is born through IVF, so it’s given people the opportunity to grow their families,” Grenfell said. “So this decision with Roe ending this or limiting this in any way is so crazy and confusing to me, it’s hard to conceptualize.”
The Heartland Center for Reproductive Medicine says he has received many questions from patients like Grenfell.
For now, nothing has changed but a special legislative session could be on the horizon. Trigger bills, including the one that was introduced and failed in the last unicameral session and those passed in Oklahoma and Texas, define life during fertilization, which could affect access to things like IVF.
“Preventing us from providing the standard of care for IVF as we currently do,” said Dr. Stephanie Gustin, Medical Director. “It can prevent us from testing embryos safely, whether it’s just for chromosomes or genetic diseases; this can make it difficult to thaw embryos or work with bulk embryos.
Dr. Gustin said his organization also works closely with state senators and their legal teams. Treatments that terminate a pregnancy due to health complications, such as ectopic pregnancies, may become illegal if no exceptions for abortions are allowed.
“Methotrexate is a drug used to terminate pregnancy outside the womb to ideally preserve a woman’s fallopian tube and save her life,” Dr. Gustin said.
Grenfell is someone who had an ectopic pregnancy.
“And going through an ectopic was incredibly traumatic, so I can’t imagine that happening and not have confidence in what the course of action would be,” Grenfell said.
LB 933 which was the triggering abortion ban bill that failed in the last legislative session has also been criticized, even by supporters, for not excluding things like IVF from its wording. Some said they wouldn’t consider voting again until some of that wording was reworked.
State Senator Joni Albrecht, the author of LB933admitted to Nebraska state media last week that they “would have a rewrite to do in the language of the trigger bill.”
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