Let’s Be Clear: The Republican Party Is Officially Against IVF

in vitro fertilizationThanks to Congressman Todd Akin, we’ve all spent a lot of time lately talking about “legitimate  rape” and the rape exception for abortion. All but the most conservative of the Republican party have condemned the Senate candidate for suggesting that women can’t get pregnant through rape, because their bodies have magical ways “to shut that whole thing down.” Mitt Romney called the statement “inexcusable,” and called for Akin to drop out of the race. President Barack Obama stated that, “Rape is rape,” and reinforced his support for a woman’s right to make her own reproductive health decisions.

We’ve had a lot of conversations about abortion, rape, and what happens when the two intersect.

But in the rush to denounce to Todd Akin and his backward beliefs about the power of the female uterus, many have overlooked the extreme stance on all reproductive health issues taken by the official platform of the Republican Party. While the media rushed to cover the Congressman from Missouri, the GOP gathered under the leadership of Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell to determine the party’s position on all major policy issues for the upcoming years.

While we were focusing on Todd Akin, Republicans approved some positions that everyone should be aware of and that many women should be concerned about. According to CNN, this clause was approved to be part of the Republican’s official party platform.

“Faithful to the ‘self-evident’ truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.”

Let’s all be clear, this is the language of Personhood. This is the believe that human life starts at conception. And while many just looked at this and pointed out that it would criminalize all abortion with no exceptions for rape, incest or the life the mother, there are a lot of other ways that Personhood laws affect women. Mainly, it would severely limit birth control and in vitro fertilization.

Personhood would reduce available options for birth control. Hormonal choices, such as The Pill, could become illegal. The fast-growing and popular choice of the IUD would certainly be unavailable. Women and men would be limited to choices like condoms and spermicide if they didn’t want to go the Natural Family Planning route.

(Photo: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock)

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  • Penelope

    The arguments you’re making here are conceivable under a very literal interpretation of the personhood amendment. I’m not arguing with that, but I am wondering if there are any definitive statements by the GOP or any conservatives in government that back these up? Do we know for sure that these are all possibilities?

    • Lawcat

      I’m not sure if many would come out an say it, even if they did support it. Heck, even those who were campaigning for personhood bills were evasive in whether or not it would affect BC. It’s not a popular position and admitting that it could hurt access to BC means fewer voters will vote for it. But if that is the GOP’s platform, it would have pretty wide reaching implications. The law has always defined a person as someone who has been born and I don’t see the need to change that now.

    • caricake

      True, true. But don’t forget Rick Santorum, the guy who came thisclose to running against Obama for president instead of Mitt Romney. He clearly stated on more than one occasion that he believes that birth control (BIRTH CONTROL!) should be illegal.

    • Juniper

      But he isn’t running for president.

  • Michelle

    I just don’t understand this. I am a conservative because I don’t want government involved in my life. I want to be free to make my own decisions without big brother telling me what I should do. Blah, I just hate how everything has to be so black and white with politicians.

  • Andrea

    Blah-I hate when this blog goes political. Making sweeping generalizations and quoting biased news sources and using scary headlines…really turns me off.

    • caricake

      Sorry to hear that. Don’t read those articles then. I like them. It is nice for me to have a place to discuss political issues with other people without leaving the house since my 2 year old and 4 year old, for some odd reason, have no interest in conversing with me about such matters.
      Also, a lot of the info in this article is correct. Just google Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann, they both said a ton of crazy things in the past year including that birth control should be illegal (Santorum) and that the birth control mandate in the Affordable Care Act will lead to the US government enforcing a one-child only policy like China’s (Bachmann).
      Also Newt Gingrich, who like Bachmann and Santorum tried to win the Republican presidential nomination, had this to say about IVF: “If you have in vitro fertilization you are creating life; therefore we should look seriously at what should the rules be for clinics that are doing that, because they are creating life”, thus implying at the least some concern that IVF is immoral or contrary to biblical principles. (That quote comes from an article on Slate.com by Belle Bogs called “Visible Life” though I also read it in the Atlantic several months ago. Unfortunately I don’t keep old magazines around to reduce clutter so I can’t tell you off the bat which specific issue.)

    • Andrea

      I said nothing about the content of the article, so no need to sell me on her viewpoint.  My issue is with the polarizing way in which things are presented. This is one of the most divisive times in American history and posts like this don’t help.  A few people don’t represent an entire group. If a man in San Francisco says it is his right to sacrifice animals, can I post an article titled “let’s be clear: Californians kill puppies.”?

    • caricake

      You said that this article makes sweeping generalizations and quotes from biased news sources. That is, in my humble opinion, directly criticizing the content of this article.

    • caricake

      Also, check out the recently revised GOP platform. In general, and this applies to every party, politicians running within the party are supposed to be in agreement with the party platform. That is just kind of how it has always worked. And of course there are always some exceptions, Olympia Snow would be an example of a Republican who doesn’t always fall in line. However, those poor souls often face some kind of repercussion for it such as losing the support of their party colleagues when facing re-election or attempting to pass legislation. For this reason your puppy-killing analogy doesn’t equate for me personally.

    • Andrea

      I think we are making two different points – I am not trying to start an online battle. Obviously you read about this issue and I am glad you do your own research and draw your own informed opinions. I just hope that people who don’t do their own research are not influenced by a blog on a parenting website. In my opinion, this is not a political website, it is about parenting and women’s issues. It is one thing to present issues and current events, but I don’t think this is an appropriate forum for a title like that. We are fortunate to live in a country that allows people to decide what issues are important to them and do their own research, but unfortunately that doesn’t happen often enough.

    • SCErRN

      Well, it kind of does.

    • Juniper

      Agreed. Hate being lumped with those of my party that have opposing viewpoints. Not all democrats agree with each other on every issue right?

  • To Celebrate Women

    And from there, it’s only a hop skip jump to The Handmaid’s Tale. American women, if Romney wins, RUN.

  • Elise77

    Holy hyperbolic horsecrap, batman.
    NObody is trying to prevent women from ending life-threatening pregnancies. I am aware of precisely NO legislation or proposed legislation limiting families’ access to in vitro fertilization. I am aware of NO legislation or proposed legislation to ban hormonal birth control, and the idea that ANYONE is REMOTELY interested in preventing women from taking it for medicinal purposes is sheer, unadulterated BS.

    I know the author will not change her position because she has a political agenda and narrative to stick to- facts be damned. But, to borrow an expression that she seems to enjoy parroting from our Fearless Leader, “let’s be clear”: This story is intended to scare women stupid. Literally.

    Luckily, there are still women out here who think for ourselves and don’t need our government to grant us special rights and privileges and dispensations as though we’re truly the weaker sex. Some of us can take care of ourselves and use our own brains and do our own research, and we won’t settle for this demeaning version of “feminism” that manufactures a “war on women.” Some of us despise the hypocrisy of “My body, my choice- stay out of my bedroom- but pay for my birth control!” Some of us are more concerned that we can’t support our families because we don’t have jobs, than we are about forcing the few remaining taxpayers to foot the bill for our family planning, and we don’t have the time- and we’ve lost all patience- for the pathetic, out-of-touch “feminist” rhetoric.

    • Lawcat

      While it might not be the intention of everyone in the GOP to limit access to birth control, etc. that’s exactly what the proposed legislation seems to consider. You don’t seem to refute that, with such language, it is a possibility. Moving a centuries old definition of personhood from one spectrum to the other is silly. What purpose does it serve? Why now? Like you said, why are they making this a focus when people are struggling to keep their families afloat? For a party that wants to keep government small and spend less money, this seems like an odd platform to adopt. I’m all for the government keeping their hands off my guns, but I’d also like them to keep their hands off my prescriptions (that I pay for myself). Because it’s really no one’s business except mine.

    • LindsayCross

      I would just like to say that the laws don’t have to precisely mention IVF to have an effect on it. If you give a fertilized egg all of the rights of a citizen, all of these things are going to be impacted. If a fertilized egg has all of the rights of the mother, who decides which to save when both lives are in jeopardy? They’re two separate citizens, whose rights come first? If a fertilized egg has rights, parents would half to use all the eggs retrieved in the IVF process to give each of those eggs the opportunity to become people. That either means retrieving one or two eggs at a time or a lot more multiple births. Both of those options will drastically increase the risk and cost of IVF.

      The platform doesn’t have to mention birth control or IVF to impact them. By giving fertilized eggs all the rights of normal citizens, which the platform aims to do, anything that involves pregnancy and fertilized eggs becomes a government and legal issue.

    • Serena

      Well said Elise!

    • Juniper

      Extremely well put.

  • Jessica

    This article isn’t exactly correct. Right now, the personhood amendments are being used to defined the moment of “life” on a state-by-state basis. If any of the state constitution amendments pass, the supporters hope this will be justification to turn over the federal ruling on Roe vs. Wade. Most of these proposals have been in the bible belt and NONE of them have passed! It is true that since personhood defines life at conception, doctors may not wish to deal with the potential lawsuits, thereby resulting in fewer IVF doctors. However, that is not the real problem with personhood and IVF. IVF patients take drugs to drastically increase their egg production to better their chances of conception. When the eggs are retrieved and combined with the sperm, personhood laws dictate that everything must be done to preserve this life. This means that the woman must transfer (put back) all of the resulting embryos. This can result in multiple babies and is very dangerous for everyone involved. It is common for women with PCOS to produce more than 20 eggs, so you can see how that would be troublesome. Another procedure that IVF patients perform is genetic testing. Typically one of the embryos is “sacrificed” to determine the cause of unexplained infertility. Sometimes this is the only way to determine why a couple can’t conceive. Based on the personhood laws, this will be illegal to kill a life as a science procedure. Lastly, if (big if) personhood laws allow women to freeze their embryos for later transfer, the existence of these embryos must also be accounted for. In many cases, when IVF couples have the number of children that they want, they destroy the remaining embryos. Obviously, pro-personhood laws would make this illegal. But the question remains…what to do with all of these remaining frozen embryos? If the embryos are not destroyed and are implanted into multiple women wanting babies instead, there could be siblings across multiple families. There are multiple ethical considerations for this, which aren’t pertinent to this discussion.

    So as much as I appreciate the authors efforts in getting the word out there about these (IMHO) stupid personhood laws, the title and content isn’t really true. Pro-personhood and anti-IVF do not go hand in hand. When Gingrich stated that “we should look at the rules” for IVF clinics, the three issues I have discussed above is what he is talking about. This is the primary reason that the personhood amendments have not passed. State legislatures have gone on record stating that they want to pass the personhood bill and “figure out the details later”. This is unacceptable.

    Just so you know, it kills me to defend Gingrich! I am more Democrat than Republican and have gone thru 11 IUIs and 6 IVFs due to unexplained infertility. If anything, personhood laws would benefit me because my husband and I are looking into embryo donation, which may increase the number of available embryo if the laws were passed. However, I am COMPLETELY against them because women should be allowed to determine what they do to their own bodies. I think if couples are willing to go through the emotional and financial
    rollercoaster of IVF, they have thought long and hard about the pros and cons and the government needs to stay out of it. I have never known a women to go through IVF without considering the ethical consequences. But I do know several couples who do not go the IVF route because of their pro-life and religious beliefs.

  • Hickchic

    This is why our country is in the shape it is, to many people want to bury their heads in the sand because they are scared. Well you had better wake up and get involved, because what is coming will blow your mind. Obama has many bad things in the works for us, example…all babies born in 2013 will have a chip emplanted in them for medical history. How is that for a mind blower? Don’t believe me, look up about the big bill that got passed without any congressmen reading it first. It’s in there.

    • LindsayCross

      For factual accuracy, I would just like to supply this. The claim that the Affordable Care Act would require microchips implanted in anyone is completely false. http://www.snopes.com/politics/medical/microchip.asp

    • Juniper

      And these types of posts are what makes the right seem uneducated and uninformed. Obama is bad news for many legit reasons. I beg those of you making politically charged statements to read acceptable forms of research and not some alarmist email forward you received.

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  • Broseph

    This entire platform would be much more successful if personhood defined life as the moment implantation in the uterine cavity. In this case etopic pregnancy and IVF embryos would not be defined as life and therefore could be destroyed legally under personhood laws.

    • M.

      Not likely. Anyway, with IVF it is not uncommon to have to deal with embryonic reduction (where you have multiple implantation) in an attempt to ensure that at least one of the fetuses survives, lest they all fail.

  • http://www.facebook.com/melanie.brady Melanie Brady

    Untrue. Romney’s son Tagg became father of twin boys thanks to help from IVF.

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  • Kate

    Sounds like you’re Libertarian to me.

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  • caricake

    I’m a Republican though…

  • caricake

    It isn’t wrong to report things that are true. Doing so is not unfair and will not unfairly influence other people because all the facts are real and true. If this blog were to publish information about the GOP or the DNC or any other group that is blatantly false, then you might have a point. That is not what is going on here, I can assure you. I am and have been heavily involved with the GOP since I was a teenager. I was a proud member of the NY Young Republicans for about 10 years. And I am struggling now with my affiliation largely due to some truly troubling behaviors and policy positions that are in my opinion are both against the values we claim to hold dear (limited government for example) and, more importantly, actually destructive to our society. I feel this issues must be publicized because only public outcry can bring about any change at this point since it has been my experience that my party will no longer tolerate any internal discussion or disagreement. Therefore, pressure on the party to change it’s ways must come from external forces- even parenting blogs.

  • caricake

    He was. He was the second runner up, remember? It wasn’t THAT long ago…

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  • http://www.facebook.com/rae.barcus Rae Barcus

    Wow! That statement about our bodies magically shutting it down threw me off my seat.