An astounding 1 in 8 American couples will experience problems having children during their lifetimes, making infertility one of America’s greatest unsung medical epidemics. Unfortunately, the vast array of drugs and procedures available to help couples with fertility issues, including inseminations and homeopathic remedies, do not always work.
There is, however, a treatment that does work: in vitro fertilization (IVF). During my close to 15 years as a fertility consultant and through my own personal experience with IVF, I have discovered IVF to be a veritable miracle technique, enabling thousands of people, myself included, to overcome the heart wrenching diagnosis of infertility.
Imagine for a moment eagerly trying to start your family only to learn that you are a 1 in 8 and the only way for you to have a biological child of your own is through IVF. I was faced with this exact reality. Fortunately, we live in a time where options like IVF are available. But here's the scary reality: one of our presidential candidates is lobbying to end the existence of IVF. As someone who, not only helps clients have children through IVF, but is also a parent because of IVF, I take this very personally.
Ted Cruz released a chilling video last week which zealously showed his support for fetal "personhood" where zygotes would be considered legal "persons" and would therefore be granted full protection by the U.S. Constitution. “I enthusiastically support that resolution and, as president of the United States" he asserts, "I pledge to you that I will do everything within my power to end the scourge of abortion once and for all, that I will use the full constitutional power and the bully pulpit of the presidency to promote a culture of life, that I will sign any legislation put on my desk to defend the least of these, including legislation that defends the rights of all persons, without exception other than the life of the mother from conception to natural death."
Cruz, like others in his party, grounds his opinion in a conservative, theological belief that human life begins at conception. But the implications of these beliefs for those needing to undergo the IVF process to have a family are alarming. In an IVF cycle, numerous eggs are retrieved with the hope that a good number of healthy embryos will be created. Generally, any embryos that are not transferred are frozen. By granting full constitutional rights to embryos, fertility doctors would not be permitted to retrieve more than one or two eggs per IVF cycle. This would not only decrease success rates significantly, but would also make an already expensive process more cost prohibitive to patients because they would be required to undergo multiple retrieval procedures. Patients would also be subjected to increased medical risks for each egg retrieval they would be required to undergo.
Thankfully, the picture is much brighter on the democratic side. Hillary Clinton embraces the widespread belief shared by most fertility professionals, that human life begins at fetal viability or birth. In 2015, while responding to the nationwide firestorm surrounding abortion rights and employer-financed contraception, Clinton remarked that, “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed” so as to grant women proper access to “reproductive health care.”
Unlike other national politicians, Clinton seems to view access to family planning methods within the larger context of women’s rights. In an extensive interview she gave last year to The Des Moines Register, Clinton noted that, “The Republicans have made it clear in recent years that they are not only opposed to abortion, which they have been for quite some time, they are increasingly opposed to family planning and contraception. This is a direct assault on a woman’s right to choose health care.”
For Clinton, access to family planning methods is a matter of personal freedom. As not only a fertility consultant, but also a grateful parent thanks to IVF, I couldn't agree more. IVF allows people to experience the joy of parenthood. All Americans, especially any American with hopes of starting a family one day, should bring their fertility concerns to the voting booth, demanding that politicians not only get behind but also protect this miracle technology.
Stephanie Levich is the Founder of Family Match Consulting, LLC,which assists clients in finding their perfect egg donor and surrogate candidates. Stephanie has been named one of America’s Top Entrepreneurs Under the age of 30 by Inc. Magazine and has been featured in various publications including Valley Life, and ForbesWoman. She is very grateful for the miracle of IVF which helped bring her to her very proudest accomplishments: her two beautiful children.