Mississippi’s ‘Personhood Amendment’ Would Severly Limit IVF

Fertilizing an egg, in vitro fertilizationUpdate: 55% of Mississippi voters rejected the state’s “Personhood Amendment,” though supporters aren’t giving up quite yet.

Mississippians struggling with infertility will soon have  a new roadblock on the way to having a child. The state’s controversial “Personhood Amendment” could make in vitro fertilization, a process that’s already difficult and expensive, exceedingly more complicated for women and their doctors.

The ballot initiative is the newest legal strategy in the anti-abortion movement. If passed, it would add an amendment to the state’s constitution that legally defines an embryo as a human being. Therefore, once a woman’s egg has been fertilized, it would be a person with all of a person’s rights. It would essentially make abortion illegal.

So how does this change things for women who desperately want children, as opposed to those who want the choice not to have kids? Well, IVF removes a woman’s eggs, fertilized them and then implants them back into her uterus. The common practice right now is for doctors to remove many eggs at a time, because the retrieval procedure is quite invasive. Therefore, they take multiple eggs. Some of the eggs won’t fertilize at all, never reaching embryo status, but it’s impossible to tell exactly which ones or how many will. In these cases, if many eggs fertilize, than one or two are implanted into a woman’s uterus and the others are frozen, to be used in future IVF procedures if the first or second try is unsuccessful.

If every embryo is a person, than each one taken from the mother must be implanted and given the opportunity to grow into a child. This means that if you took and attempted to fertilize multiple eggs, than a mother would be forced to carry multiple children. If you only take one egg at a time, then your chances of going through this long, difficult and expensive procedure over and over again greatly increases. It would also heighten the risk for the mother, because egg retrieval is technically a surgery with all of the complications and dangers that go along with any other surgery.

No matter where you come down on the abortion debate, I’m pretty amazed that a state is willing to make things so difficult for women who really want children. Apparently, those struggling with infertility are just collateral damage in this large grasp of power for control of a woman’s reproductive rights.

I may not live in Mississippi, but as a mother, as a woman who is desperately trying to have a second child and simply as a female citizen of this country, I’m appalled that any government feels that they have the power to decide what I can or cannot do with my body. I hope that Mississippi won’t bar those who truly want children to have them because they want to force another woman to carry a child she isn’t prepared to take care of. It seems to me like a very odd way to honor life.

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