Doctors tell ABC7 the process will likely become more complicated, increase risks and increase costs for women across the country.
“I think this puts the practice of IVF at risk,” said Dr. Marcelle Cedars, director of UCSF’s Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.
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The risk for IVF
Cedars explains that the future of in vitro fertilization or IVF could be in jeopardy because some of the laws prohibiting or restricting abortions define the beginning of life upon fertilization. This could have major implications for infertility care, which is an $8 billion industry.
“It scares me very much,” Cedars said. “I think individuals, couples and families in states that have impending bans are worried. What happens to their embryos? Can they dispose of them, freeze them or transfer them?”
IVF often involves the insertion of multiple embryos to increase the chances of a successful pregnancy. Medical professionals and patients are concerned that if some pregnancies are terminated, as is often the case with these procedures, would this be prohibited under these prohibitions? It’s a fear faced by women in at least 26 states that are likely to ban or severely restrict abortion.
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“If you’re held responsible for a bad outcome even though it’s not really your fault, that’s a legal consequence that people are worried about,” said Dr. Ruben Alvero, director of the division of reproductive endocrinology. and infertility at Stanford Children’s Health.
Alvero says that among those 26 states, the legal ramifications patients face can even include miscarriages.
“Women who miscarry could be blamed for the miscarriage,” Alvero said. “Between 10 and 30% of pregnancies end in miscarriage.”
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Longer waiting times
These fears California women are unlikely to face given existing laws protecting reproductive rights. The real impact on the state will be increased demand from patients coming from outside of California, which could further limit access and possibly drive up costs.
“We always have a waiting period and that’s something we always try to get people through,” Alvero said. “Demand is an issue, and it will definitely increase wait times for these patients.”
IVF clinics across the country — including the Bay Area — are already dealing with a backlog of patients due to the pandemic.
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High risk procedures
Dr. Cedars says that if states pass regulations that limit the number of embryos allowed to be inserted, it could put patients at higher risk.
“If there are restrictions like there have been in other countries, where you have to limit the number of embryos you can make. For example, you can only inseminate three eggs and have to transfer more embryos than they need…you are putting them and their children at high risk of complications,” she said.
Cedars added that it would also reduce the effectiveness of a typical procedure and make it more expensive.
According to a report by the Pacific Fertility Center, the average cost of IVF treatment in California ranges between $8,000 and $13,000 per cycle without medication. But for parents using third-party IVF treatments, the costs soar to between $14,000 and $46,000. Other organizations report an even larger price gap.
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