Posted on April 1, 2010
Normally I try to be fairly politically correct on my blog, but I am breaking this rule today. For over a month I have been working with local infertility doctors, RESOLVE volunteers and others to fight anti-infertility and anti-family legislation in Arizona. It has been an ugly process and it has made me angry!
So, first things first. Senator Gray had the nerve to stand up in front of the Health & Human Services Committee and read a letter from Dr. Moffit about how he stated that the amendments that had been made to the bills “protect” the infertile community. Yet she didn’t read the letter signed by 8 of the Reproductive Endocrinologists that informed her they DO NOT support the amendments and fear the bill will adversely impact their standard of care. I watched Dr. Zoneraich hand her this letter in a meeting just last week – weeks after she had received the letter of “approval” from Dr. Moffit. It saddens me that she took this approach in the committee hearings knowing full well that the infertile community is AGAINST these bills.
To Rep. Nancy Barto – while it is true that we have joined you for a few meetings to discuss our concerns with these bills you have done little to incorporate the suggestions by the doctors to protect infertile patients, especially on SB1307 – which is going to halt the treatment of IVF, as we know it, in the State of Arizona. We do not believe it when you say that you will “continue” to work with us to protect infertile patients because you rejected most of the suggestions provided by the doctors. Your idea of compromise is fixing terminology so that it mirrors what is happening in this medical field. Changing from “provider” to “donor” is not compromising! I do not believe you have any intention of protecting those who have been cursed with the disease of infertility as your only goal is to protect human tissue that cannot become life without a womb.
To the Arizona Republican House and Senate members – please stop telling people who are calling you or sending you emails about these bills that you have “fixed” them and that they have nothing to worry about. If anyone in Arizona is going through an IVF cycle today – they may not have access to their frozen embryos if their fresh cycle fails (or want to add a child to their family) because the docs are going to be too worried about a Class 6 FELONY if one of the embryos dies when thawed. Keeping embryos tied up in a frozen state forever is not the preservation of human dignity! And forget about having any decision about destroying your OWN embryos. You and the doctor will be charged with a Class 6 FELONY for doing so. Say goodbye to your LIVING children for a few months while you serve your sentence in prison for treating your disease with safe and effective medicine.
And how about donating your embryos to another family? Well – who is going to take the responsibility for paying for the testing and transfer fees? You! Because you cannot get reimbursed for those fees because that would be considered “compensation.” And hopefully the lucky couple lives outside of Arizona otherwise an AZ RE might not be willing to thaw the embryos for the couple you so selflessly donated your embryos to.
And SB1306 which protects the egg donor – well buried at the end of the bill is a little clause that prevents any research on EGGS. If research was permitted on eggs than the doctors might just be able to develop technology that negates the need to fertilize all of a woman’s eggs after a fresh retrieval – which creates embryos, many of which they don’t need because they only transfer 1-3 embryos per IVF cycle. Yet, this research would one day fix the so called “ethical” issues some “people” have with SB1307.
If you are an infertile couple in Arizona your treatment options will be:
1. IUIs (artificial insemination) because this procedure doesn’t involve embryos the doctors have little risk of going to prison for using this medical treatment. However, you will be at risk for getting pregnant with high order multiples, remember the family in Lake Havasu with sextuplets? That will be you. Also, keep in mind the success rates of IUIs are much lower than IVF. Get ready for month after month of IUIs…
2. If you are dealing with male factor infertility or infertility issues that make IUI an ineffective treatment option, you might be able to undergo an IVF cycle. But it will look much different tomorrow because of SB1307 than it does today. I’m guessing your RE will retrieve all of your eggs, however, they will not fertilize all of them in order to minimize the possibility of any unused embryos. This prevents them from having to freeze and store your embryos in perpetuity and reduces their risk of going to prison if one of the embryos dies upon thawing. Also, this will reduce your chances of a successful IVF cycle, i.e., a pregnancy, because the RE fertilized only a few of your eggs which means he has less embryos to choose from, which means they might have to transfer lower quality embryos which have little hopes of implanting. The success rates in AZ will decrease dramatically and couples will be left with few options but to continue to pay out of pocket for fresh IVF cycles or travel out of AZ to a more fertility friendly state – a state that can actually effectively treat your infertility with the proper medical protocols.
3. If you have frozen embryos in AZ you will be responsible for paying for annual storage fees FOREVER! You will not be able to destroy them and it is unlikely you will spend $1500-2000 to donate them to another couple, although that would be cheaper than paying the annual storage fees. Forget about a compassionate transfer as that will be illegal too as the intent of a compassionate transfer is not to “protect” the embryo. Destroying your own embryos is not an option or you can face prison time. Really! Forget the fact that the legislators have left you little options since they are preventing any research on eggs that could create technologies that would negate the need to freeze embryos, but I’ve already gone there.
This is the reality of Arizona in just a few short weeks. And it is coming to a state near you. Colorado is adding “personhood” to their 2010 ballot – that measure is trying to do in CO what SB1307 is trying to do in AZ.
Want to stop this? Take action now – call your Representative and send them an email. RESOLVE makes that easy. Click here for their form letter and information about how to contact your Representative.
I don’t know enough about the Health reform just passed to say how it is going to impact infertility patients. However, there are 15 states with some form of insurance coverage, Arizona is not one of them. For more information about infertility insurance coverage visit RESOLVE.
P.S. The opinions expressed in this blog are mine; however I have linked to the RESOLVE website to make it easier to you to take immediate action–they have not approved this blog post and I am not representing RESOLVE in this post or on this blog.