In-vitro new front in embryo war Right-to life battle lines may be shifting to fertilized frozen embryos, which have helped millions of women conceive By Judy Peres Tribune staff reporter Published July 6, 2005 An Illinois judge declares that an early embryo is a human being, allowing a couple to sue a clinic for destroying a fertilized egg. A U.S. senator suggests that couples seeking fertility treatment should not be allowed to produce more embryos than they wish to implant simultaneously. Anti-abortion activists picket a fertility clinic in Virginia, proclaiming, "IVF kills babies." These and other developments have some reproductive health experts wondering if opposition to embryonic stem cell research may broaden to include in-vitro fertilization, a mainstream medical procedure used by millions of people. Abortion opponents contacted by the Tribune said they were not aware of any lobbying to ban or restrict in-vitro fertilization--IVF--but they'd happily support such legislation. "IVF requires killing," said Bill Beckman, executive director of the Illinois Right to Life Committee. "They choose which [embryos] to implant, and they create spares that will die." The cells used in embryonic stem cell research come from IVF embryos, which critics believe deserve the same ethical treatment as living children. The debate has raised awareness that this procedure typically creates more embryos than are used to make babies. Many experts believe IVF is far too commonplace to be drastically restricted. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine estimates that one of every 100 children born in the U.S. is conceived this way. Beckman agreed that trying to limit IVF would be difficult, adding that abortion and euthanasia are higher priorities. "There are too many battles to fight, and IVF is not at the top of the priority list," he said. "It doesn't have the same priority for us as stem cell research," said Carrie Gordon Earll of Focus on the Family. "There are only so many man-hours to go around." Yet recent events are provoking anxiety in the field of assisted reproduction. In Kentucky, draft legislation would force IVF practitioners to fertilize only one egg at a time. The usual practice is to fertilize multiple eggs and preserve some in case the woman doesn't get pregnant on the first try. If the Kentucky bill passed, it "would dramatically lower pregnancy rates," said Dr. Richard Scott, director of Reproductive Medicine Associates on the East Coast. "Tens of thousands of people a year will go without a family." President Bush and other politicians, meanwhile, are promoting "embryo adoption" as an alternative to destroying leftover embryos. A spokesman for Americans United for Life said his group is researching model legislation for states that want to regulate reproductive technologies. Already, Louisiana bans the intentional destruction of a viable fertilized egg. At the individual level, IVF raises complicated moral issues. Many patients who describe themselves as pro-life have no compunction about creating new life through the procedure, experts agreed. On the other hand, some people who describe themselves as pro-choice find they can't bear to destroy or donate their leftover embryos. In IVF, a woman is given hormones so her ovaries will produce a large number of eggs at once. The eggs are removed and fertilized in a lab. After the fertilized eggs start dividing, one or more embryos are transferred to the woman's uterus in hopes that one will implant and develop into a fetus. Remaining healthy embryos are usually saved for future pregnancy attempts. Frozen embryos have been accumulating since the late 1970s, creating a stockpile estimated at more than 400,000. Those embryos are a potential source of stem cells, which researchers believe might be able to generate replacement tissue that could help people with cancer, diabetes and other diseases. Whether doing that is morally acceptable hinges on the question of when life begins--the same question at the root of the abortion debate. To those who believe a human life is created the moment egg meets sperm, abortion is murder. So is destroying a frozen embryo. But Beckman estimates fewer than 10 percent of Americans hold that view. Many who oppose abortion are in favor of IVF and embryonic stem cell research. And some who oppose stem cell research, such as Bush, support IVF. The entire article can be found here: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/...ory?coll=chi-newslocal-hed&ctrack=1&cset=true I have brought this up in other context, but now the "dirty little secret" is picking up momentum. The problem is that there are lots and lots (millions) of famly values type conservative christian Bush-lovin folks out there whose boys had a little trouble swimming up stream. Is it ok to be against abortion and stem cell research, to the point of standing in judgment of others, and still submit to IVF where embryos are created but never intended to be gestated (I have no idea if that is a word?) Does it get a little too close to home for some to the point of getting that little "it seemed like a good team to be on until they turned on me." I'm just curious because I always found most people (including my self to some degree) to be hypocritical on their "life" stances. That is why I have great respect for persons on both sides of the issue if they are consistent throughout their beliefs. Ex., Pope JP II was against abortion, stem cell research, the death penalty, war, euthanasia etc. Most of us allow our political preferences to creep in to "justify" one thing while being against something that seems equivalent. So there it is. Anyone care to defend IVF while standing firm against abortion and stem cell?