As Well as If: IVF, Abortion Rights, and Consistency

I’ve written before about our 10-year science experiment that led to Kick being born. Ten years of fertility treatments, ranging from minimal intervention to the six IVF cycles that finally resulted in what we call, horrifyingly, a “live birth.”

Those six cycles, over two years, involved thrice-daily injections of multiple medications, some with side effects that are still being felt five years later. I was allergic to one of the carrier oils for one of the meds and developed a tendency to break out in hives, for example. Another medication simulated menopause, a super-fun experience in your early 30s. Days and days and days off work; my job at the time was part-time, so I could devote the other “part” to the process.

Had our insurance not covered almost all of this, it would have been close to $150,000.

My point is this, about IVF: Nobody, nobody, does it lightly. Nobody’s skipping into the clinic saying hey, shoot me up! I know our morning shows and TV dramas are shit about giving out information about childbearing but trust me, and trust the needle marks in my arms and hands and back and legs, trust the laparoscopy and the myomectomy scars, trust the backlog of bills even with insurance: This isn’t something you can do on a whim.

But that’s what they think about women, that we do things because notions just flit into our feathery little heads.

I said, years ago, when the 20-week abortion bans and fetal personhood bills started coming up in state legislatures, that this would result in the targeting of IVF procedures and everybody said oh, no, you’re being hysterical well HYSTERICAL THIS, YOU SANCTIMONIOUS PRICKS: 

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A federal program to help injured veterans and their spouses conceive children through in vitro fertilization is being hobbled by anti-abortion forces that oppose how the process can lead to embryos being destroyed.

Since 2012, Democrats in Congress have repeatedly championed legislation permanently extending IVF benefits to veterans whose injuries in the line of duty have left them unable to conceive children otherwise.

But those bills have fizzled in the face of opposition from Catholic bishops and others in favor of a temporary program that must be reauthorized every year, complicating efforts by eligible veterans to begin or extend their families.

Look, let’s give them credit for consistency here. If every fertilized egg is a person, then every fertility clinic in the country is holding thousands of hostages. If those are people, with the full range of human rights granted a full-term baby, every fertility clinic in the country should either have to apply to a judge for legal guardianship of every single embryo (and comply with all federal and state requirements for said role) or look forward to a bunch of kidnapping charges.

If I was a creative lawyer I’d be filing habeas petitions on behalf of all those embryos to have them liberated.

This shit is just so cynical and enraging. It’s not an accident they’re going after veterans’ IVF benefits and assistance first. The USCCB is stupid but they’re not stupid, they know it’s one thing to shriek MAH TAX DOLLARS and another to tell the nice lady putting her envelope in the collection basket that she’s sinning by going to the clinic to help her have a much-desired child.

And you know, it shouldn’t make a difference that rich women have IVF and poor women have abortions; arguments about bodily autonomy should be about autonomy, full stop. If we favor reproductive freedom we should favor it for all, whether that’s the Duggar family having 22 kids or a single woman having none.

What’s frustrating is that the people who do want to have 22 kids don’t see that the same freedom that protects my right to abortion also protects my right to have as many children as I want. When we say choice we mean choice.

The choice of when and how, as well as if.