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North Dakota Legislation Has the Infertility Community in an Uproar

a blog by Claire, January 30, 2013

A bill presented to the North Dakota Senate calls to ban embryo freezing and restrict embryo transfer guidelines to 2 embryos per in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle. The bill is driven by the LIFE coalition of Fargo out of “concern for life at all stages.”

The legislation would prevent women, even those diagnosed with cancer relying on egg freezing for fertility preservation prior to chemotherapy, from storing embryos and would limit the number of embryos a couple could transfer during an IVF cycle. Depending on embryo quality and age of the female patient, this could significantly impact the outcome of her cycle.

Here are a few of our thoughts on the subject:

  • Fertility patients over the age of 35 would be limited to two, potentially moderate or poor quality embryos per transfer and would be forced to exhaust their family building budgets on multiple cycles.

  • When it comes to the under 35 fertility treatment crowd, frozen single embryo transfers are the latest trend for safe and successful fertility treatments. If fertility doctors in North Dakota are forbidden from transferring frozen embryos, reproductive medicine techniques will not advance but remain at a standstill. Scientific evidence supports that preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) combined with frozen, single embryo transfers yield the highest pregnancy rates and safest pregnancy conditions. We can’t help but wonder how many couples will feel pressured to transfer more embryos to get “more bang for their buck,” out of fear they would waste that second “legal” embryo. Read: Should You Transfer One Embryo or Two?.

  • Remember, the LIFE coalition is claiming concern for life at all stages. Wouldn’t that include risks to the mother and her babies? If more couples are transferring two embryos instead of moving forward with the trend of transferring one embryo, it is likely the number of multiples’ pregnancies will increase, as will the risks to the mother, the babies. Let’s not forget the associated medical expenses and the infants’ time in the NICU. This bill seems counterintuitive.

Currently, embryo freezing is legal in the state, but many fertility patients would be forced to reconsider their treatment or travel out of state in the event that this bill passes.

Tell us what you think! Visit our thread on North Dakota proposal looks to ban embryo freezing and limit embryo transfers.


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