PHOENIX - What's being billed as a legislative study of in vitro fertilization could be the first step toward banning the process outright in Arizona.
The proposal by Sen. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, requires in vitro fertilization clinics to provide the state with detailed information on everything from numbers of procedures performed and how many result in pregnancies to the number of embryos ultimately destroyed. SB 1376, set for debate and vote Thursday on the Senate floor, then would have a committee to decide what state regulation is necessary.
But Kristen Boilini, who represents in vitro fertilization clinics and the National Infertility Association, said her clients fear something more sinister.
"We know that, for the interests and the proponents behind the bill, every embryo, anywhere, has rights," she said.
Boilini cited one provision in SB 1376 that requires the study committee to consider the effects of in vitro fertilization on "third parties," including donors, the children conceived through in vitro fertilization and the embryos themselves. And the panel will decide whether regulation is necessary to protect public health "or to protect the interests of third parties." She said that paves the way for giving the embryos legal status the state could protect.
Barto would not address questions about whether her measure is the first step toward Arizona prohibiting the destruction of unused embryos, a move that effectively could end in vitro fertilization in Arizona. But she acknowledged the study committee is designed to do more than gather data.
"People will be concerned about what they hear, and there may be proposed legislation," she said. "Or we'll learn more about how it actually works and there won't be concerns."
Anyway, Barto said, there needs to be some study about the effects on donors and children conceived through in vitro fertilization. Beyond that is a question of the rights of the children to information about their biological parents.
"It's not always the father and the mother getting together and producing a child," she explained. "It's sometimes a stranger and a stranger."
She said fears about a hidden agenda have been "blown out of proportion."
But that fear is buttressed by an alert sent out by Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, urging followers to urge their legislators to support SB 1376. Herrod said there's nothing wrong with wanting to "bring new life into the world."
"Unfortunately, the industry's 'success at all costs' approach may disregard the sanctity of human life at the embryonic stage of development," her alert reads. And Herrod said while her organization has no formal position about in vitro fertilization, "we are very concerned, as every pro-life person should be, about the human lives being sacrificed in the name of building a family."
The legislation requires in vitro fertilization clinics to provide the same data to the state as is already provided to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But there are things in SB 1376 the CDC does not collect, including "selective abortion," when a woman who has gone through in vitro fertilization produces multiple fetuses and chooses to abort one or more. That process is known as "selective reduction," and there is a criminal penalty for not reporting it, even though the in vitro fertilization doctor does not perform it, Boilini said.
"We are very concerned, as every pro-life person should be, about the human lives being sacrificed in the name of building a family."
president of the Center for Arizona Policy