Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

Bill To Expand Aspects Of In Vitro Fertilization Advances In The House


Indianapolis – A bill to expand the source of eggs for in vitro fertilization cleared the House on Jan. 23 by a vote of 88-8; it now moves to the Senate.  The Indiana Catholic Conference opposes the bill and expanding the IVF industry.

House Bill 1203 would allow the sale and purchase of human eggs across state lines, thus expanding the source of eggs used in the IVF process.

According to the Mayo Clinic, in vitro fertilization is defined as a complex series of procedures used to treat fertility or genetic problems and assist with the conception of a child. During IVF, mature eggs are collected from the woman’s ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab. The human embryos created in the lab that are not implanted in the woman seeking pregnancy are either frozen for possible future use or discarded.

Glenn Tebbe, executive director of the Indiana Catholic Conference, testified in opposition to the bill. “While the bill does not specifically discuss the in vitro process, its purpose is to further the IVF process and birth of a child.

“The Catholic Church considers in vitro fertilization immoral and cannot support any attempt to promote or expand its use,” said Tebbe. “The process of IVF promotes the commodification of human beings. The Catholic Church opposes the commodification, manufacture, or sale of human beings and, consequently, any legal measure that expands or eases the abilities of private or public entities to engage in such socially damaging activities,” said Tebbe. “This bill greatly increases the practice and sources for commodifying human beings.”

Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, author of the bill, asserts that the legislation is needed to correct an unintended consequence of a 2012 law passed by the Indiana General Assembly regulating egg sale. Eberhart says the bill specifically addresses the inability of fertility clinics from accessing frozen eggs outside of the state for use by Indiana recipients. The bill would allow residents to purchase, import and export unfertilized human eggs. Eberhart says that Indiana egg banks are limited and lack diversity. Eberhart says the current practice, which limits interstate commerce for human eggs from females but permits interstate commerce for sperm, is an example of “gender discrimination.” While couples could travel out of state to get the eggs from another state, Eberhart says it causes unnecessary hardships.

Dr. Bradford Bopp, a physician at Midwest Fertility Clinic in Indianapolis, testified in support of the measure, saying one in five couples experience infertility. Half of those are the results of the woman’s infertility; the other half are the results of the man’s infertility. He said if a male has an infertility problem, he can call a sperm bank in California and easily get sperm shipped to him; but if the female has a problem with her eggs, it is a felony for her to contact an egg bank out of state to acquire an egg. Bopp said he has Indian and Asian couples who cannot find matches from the Indiana egg bank.

Elliott Bedford, Ph.D., director of Ethics Integration St. Vincent/ Ascension Indiana and Adjunct Professor in the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Marian University, asks if the bill is about “health or economics.” Bedford said, “If this were truly about health, infertility, choice and the best interests of patients, it would be focused on treating its root causes – the reproductive health of men and women.” Bedford says the best way to improve people’s choice is to improve their reproductive health by better access to medical techniques like Natural Procreative Technology (NaPro) surgeries, medications, behavior and lifestyle changes. “This bill does nothing in that regard,” said Bedford.

            “It will, however, increase commerce for IVF providers at the expense of reinforcing the objectification and commodification of women, especially those who are socio-economically vulnerable,” said Bedford. “Healthy couples don’t need to leave the state to achieve pregnancy if they can do it themselves. It’s a straw-man argument to say that the infertility problem in Indiana is lack of ‘home-grown quality or diversity;’ the real issue should be helping the Indiana community becoming healthier.” Bedford goes on to say that if people are concerned with equality and gender discrimination, they are going in the wrong direction. They should put the same protections in place against commodifying males’ [sperm] that women’s [eggs] currently enjoy.”

Tebbe said, “House Bill 1203 increases the remuneration that ‘egg banks’ can legally receive. Current law limits women and third parties, now egg banks, to travel, hospital and medical expenses. HB 1203 expands remuneration to include the retrieval, preservation and transportation of human ova as well as a broad catch-all of services related to IVF.”

House Bill 1203 has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee and awaits a hearing.