Opinion: As an IVF parent in Utah, I’m worried about the future of my family

I feel violated by the powers that be in dictating what is best for my family.

(Ben Birchall | The Associated Press) In this Aug. 11, 2008 photo, a scientist works during an IVF process.

On Feb. 16, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that embryos created from IVF were considered human life. This caused IVF facilities to put on hold IVF procedures and raised fears of individuals and couples of what the consequences of the ruling would mean for their ability to grow families through IVF and what they would be required to do with their embryos. Though this happened in Alabama and I live in Utah, GOP legislatures have shown they are willing to copy other state legislation and rulings — including DEI and transgender laws — raising fears for myself and my family.

My wife and I have two children from IVF, with one embryo still in storage. We have not decided what to do with the last embryo — have another child, donate the embryo to science or have it destroyed. But now I feel pressure to make a decision sooner in case the influence of this ruling spreads to Utah.

I am angry because I feel that IVF and what to do with embryos in storage is the sole decision of the owners of those embryos. Such personal family decisions should not be at the dictation of legislation. It is already an emotional, hard decision of what to do with our embryo without the pressure of others. I have personal religious and scientific backed beliefs about what an embryo is — but they are mine.

The ruling in Alabama was largely a religious-based decision. Living in a state where the majority of legislators are from a Christian faith that I share, I worry how they will instill their religious beliefs and interpret when human life begins. Why are others pushing their religious-based rulings and opinions on my family and others in making IVF decisions?

This Legislature claims they back family-making decisions when they argued for school vouchers, but then contradict that by dictating rules for transgender care for children. I understand protecting human life from harm is more important than autonomy in family making decisions. However, when what is harmful and what is a human life is open to interpretation and opinion, I believe science and facts should rule legislative thinking, and the onus of decisions for human life should be made by those who actually create and care for that life — the parents.

I feel violated by the powers that be in dictating what is best for my family. I have two other children to consider and how to use my wife’s and my resources in supporting those children. Whenever somebody else decides what they believe to be best for my family it crosses boundaries and makes me mad. I am not hurting others; I am just trying to make the best decision for my family in trying to decide what to do with our embryo.

The backlash to the Alabama ruling has caused many Republicans to speak out for protecting IVF access, but that backlash or momentum of protecting IVF may only last so long, especially after the election is over. I hope the momentum continues and legislatures protect the rights of individuals and couples to make their own decisions for their families, especially in IVF decisions.

(Photo courtesy of Scott Alley) Scott Alley

Scott Alley graduated from the University of Utah in English. He is a project manager living in Bountiful and is married to a wonderful woman with two kids from IVF.

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