The Overturn of Roe v. Wade: Does this Affect My IVF or Adoption Plans?
Updated: Jul 28
After the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24th, much of the proverbial "dust has settled." And we are getting a clearer picture of how this court decision will potentially impact IVF – and perhaps adoptions too. As a result of the court's decision, abortion rights are now determined by states (unless Congress acts at some point in the future). This means that access to abortions is not a federally protected right, and each state has the power to legislate its laws.
As such, more than half of the states have either trigger bans or pre-existing bans where abortion access is automatically reversed upon the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Some states had pre-existing bans on their books, and they are now free to enforce.
This landmark decision has – and will have – impacts on those pursuing IVF and adoption. Yet, some of these impacts will likely not be fully realized or understood for quite some time.
How does this affect me as an IVF patient?
The' personhood of embryos' concept is a significant issue centered around the legal right to abortion services. In other words, is an embryo a person? Does life start at fertilization? According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 2 out of 100 children born in The United States are conceived via IVF. During IVF, the goal is typically to have multiple embryos since it is unknown how many of them will make it to the blastocyst stage (5-7 days post fertilization) so that they can be genetically tested and/or transferred to the uterus. And as I've personally experienced, it is heartbreaking and devastating when your embryos don't reach the blastocyst stage.
Initially and rightfully so, there were concerns regarding frozen embryo storage in states with anti-abortion laws. Specifically, the concern centers around the question of whether or not clinics in these states will decline future embryo storage services if there's a chance they will be prosecuted for intentionally discarding embryos. The discarding of embryos could occur for several reasons, including determining that an embryo isn't viable after genetic testing. In addition, clinics in these states may also fear liability if malfunctioning freezing units unintentionally destroy embryos.
And let's say an individual or couple no longer needs their unused embryos – then what? Can they have autonomy in deciding what happens with these embryos? Will they be forced to donate or transfer them all?
There are still many questions. However, the good news – for now – is that the ruling does not impact frozen embryos or preimplantation genetic testing.
How does this affect me as a potential adoptive parent?
Unfortunately, the overturning of Roe v. Wade's impact on adoption is unclear and likely to be unseen for a while. That doesn't mean there aren't numerous – and varying – opinions. Yet there is not a lot of statistical evidence to back up what the potential impact(s) might be. Some things to consider or be aware of:
There might not be a spike or significant change in the number of children available for adoption. Upon research, I discovered that many women who decide not to have an abortion often keep their babies rather than giving up for adoption. However, I could not find any empirical data to support this narrative.
Suppose there is a sharp increase in the number of children available for adoption – you'll still have the same legal, home study fees, etc. Yet, increases in adoption costs are not expected at this time.
What to do?
IVF is still legal in all states. Although no critical impacts on IVF treatment and adoption are anticipated for the time being, elections and advocating with our legislators are essential. To stay posted on family building-related legislative issues and for more information on how to reach out to your local legislators, join Resolve's Advocacy Network.
Sources & Resources:
Spectrum News. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, will it impact adoptions?