Republicans’ new IVF bill undermines Christian values

“If you had to choose whether to save twenty embryos or an infant in a burning building, who would you pick?” A few weeks ago, U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and Katie Britt made their answer to the fallacious ethical paradox clear. The IVF Protection Act kills two birds with one stone: it sets the fire, and “saves” the baby. (Photo Credit: CBS)

The bill is designed to mandate the availability of in-vitro fertilization in every state. Despite both senators claiming to be pro-life Christians, it would force states to enshrine protections for an unscrupulous industry that cares little for human life, or have healthcare coverage taken away from their poorest citizens.

The bill erodes three foundational aspects of the Christian worldview: the sanctity of every human life, the sanctity of the family, and the human dignity of every person. 

What is IVF?

To understand why, one needs to better understand IVF. The process starts with giving drugs to a woman that stimulates the release of her eggs. The eggs are harvested and fertilized using sperm in a medium culture. Sometimes the sperm are injected into the egg. The fertilized eggs are then transferred to the woman’s uterus. 

The problem is, the success rate is very low, around 50%, and the cost of treatment is very high, usually between $20,000-$30,000 per round, so clinics produce far more embryos than needed to maximize the success rate, while freezing or killing any extra. 

Even the word “produce” makes it evident that children are but commodities to the industry during this procedure. 

Within the U.S., it is estimated that almost two million embryos are discarded each year, or nearly double the number of abortions. 

Senator Britt’s spokesman has said that “IVF enables loving parents to experience the miracle of life and start and grow their families. Abortion does the complete opposite,” and Senator Cruz has said “IVF has given miraculous hope to millions of Americans, and it has given families across the country the gift of children.” 

In both cases, the dilemma is framed with the parents as the subject, and their children as the object. Rather than being concerned with human rights or the sanctity of the life of every child, the focus is on the experience of having a child. This framing takes advantage of vulnerable families that are desperate to have children, and exposes them to the horrible ethical dilemma mentioned above. 

[RELATED: Which Republican presidential candidate will stand for life?]

This is not pro-life. 

Surrogacy and the commodification of the womb

Photo Credit: Babygest

The IVF industry, however, did not set this fire alone. The surrogacy industry is also to blame. 

The people involved in surrogacy do not even have to know each other. A man donates sperm, a woman donates eggs, and a surrogate is impregnated in a lab.

Despite Cruz and Britt’s claim that IVF is pro-woman, surrogates are treated like incubators, and motherhood like a contract, subject to the whims of a buyer.

On several occasions, surrogates have been pressured to have abortions by those buyers. 

A buyer threatened a California surrogate with monetary damages unless she aborted one of the three embryos that successfully implanted in her uterus. 

Another buyer pressured a surrogate to get an abortion if she contracted COVID-19, and harassed her OB/GYN. 

Another threatened a California surrogate with legal action if she did not abort her baby after she was diagnosed with cancer and would have to induce birth early to get treatment. 

This is not pro-family.

Access to healthcare for poor Americans is being used as a bargaining chip

Threatening to take away Medicare coverage from poor Americans if their state does not enshrine protections for IVF provides further evidence that Cruz and Britt are more concerned with maximizing individual freedom rather than upholding the sanctity of human life. 

The irony of this position is rich, as both Alabama and Texas Republicans have continually resisted attempts to expand Medicaid. Cruz has gone even further, voicing support for repealing the Affordable Care Act altogether, which would result in steep cuts to Medicaid, grounding his opposition to it in terms of individual freedom. 

This is not pro-human dignity.

Hold businesses accountable instead

Rather than putting desperate families in an ethical dilemma and violating their Christian values, Senators Cruz and Britt should hold the IVF and surrogacy industries responsible for viewing human life as expendable. This, in fact, was exactly what the Alabama Supreme Court ruling that prompted this legislation was intending to do. We expect any other business to take responsibility for their own failures. People who claim to be pro-life should be the last to ignore them, especially when they involve something as precious as human life. 

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