The inalienable right to life possessed by every human being is present from the moment of initial formation, and all human beings shall be entitled to the equal protection of persons under the law.
The Personhood Debates
Debate 2: In Vitro Fertilization
This study effectively eliminates the argument that personhood would make in vitro fertilization illegal: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/10/24/using-one-embryo-in-ivf-doesnt-lower-birth-rate/
No, it doesn't, because TRANSFERRING one embryo has nothing to do with attempting to fertilize a single egg. Up to 50% of eggs won't fertilize, and up to 50% of those which do will stop dividing prior to transfer. If you only attempt to fertilize a single egg, the overwhelming majority of women will have no embryos to transfer.
Hello, Atlee. Welcome to the Personhood Initiative. Are you familiar with the option of oocyte cryopreservation? It would be an essential component of any program utilizing single embryo IVF, and it would overcome the objection that you raise.
It's also highly experimental. Prohibiting existing forms of IVF because a few clinics are having some success with oocyte cryopreservation is like banning chemotherapy because a few clinics are having good results with clinical trials of gene therapy for cancer.
It should also be noted that the existing oocyte cryopreservation research is in the context of women who chose it for fertility preservation due to age or cancer, not of couples who have preexisting infertility issues.
Actually oocyte cryopreservation has been available since 1984 - just one year after the first successful embryo cryopreservation, and it has been used with great reliability since 1995 - seventeen years ago. Here's an article about it from the Medical Journal of Australia: http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/186_07_020407/letters_020407_fm.pdf
It absolutely is not used with "great reliability". According to the ASRM (http://www.asrm.org/uploadedFiles/ASRM_Content/News_and_Publications/Practice_Guidelines/Committee_Opinions/Ovarian_tissue_and_oocyte(1).pdf), "the experimental nature of oocyte cryopreservation suggests potential", but "the current pregnancy rates appear to be significantly less than with current IVF procedures".
Worldwide, it's estimated that less than 1000 babies have been born from oocyte preservation ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19490780). The largest studies done to date still demonstrate vastly lower implantation rates, as noted at http://humupd.oxfordjournals.org/content/13/6/591.full . Only two studies to date have demonstrated success rates comparable to existing IVF, and each of those studies involved a few dozen patients. Oocyte preservation also requires very specialized equipment and experience, which is why no Mississippi clinics offer it now.
The bottom line is that oocyte cryopreservation holds promise for 10-20 years for the future, but it is not currently a viable option for Mississippi couples.
Thank you for that response, Atlee. It is refreshing to be able to discuss this topic with someone else who has actually done some research on it. Let me point out a few observations about each of the links that you provided.
The first article from ASRM reveals some interesting facts. It does state that "pregnancy rates after transfer of thawed fertilized oocytes have been quite low." However, the article does not cite any source for that claim, and immediately follows it with the statement that "Recently, however, several studies have reported better post-thaw oocyte survival, fertilization, and pregnancy rates." The second statement is supported by the citation of two independent studies, and the article cites an additional six independent studies in support of the statement that "Numerous studies have also reported improved oocyte survival."
There are only two negatives expressed by this article in regards to the current state of oocyte cryopreservation technology. The first is the claim that there have not been enough studies performed to reach any conclusion about this technology. However, in addition to the eight studies already mentioned, the article includes references to two additional independent studies which showed that oocyte cryopreservation through vitrification has achieved success rates that "are beginning to rival those of fresh oocytes." Furthermore, the article lists four more independent studies which reveal that oocyte cryopreservation does not result in any significant increase in the formation of abnormalities.
The second negative presented in this article was the claim that pregnancy rates for oocyte cryopreservation "appear to be significantly less than those seen with standard IVF procedures." I found it far more significant, however, to note that this statement was made without a single, supporting citation.
The next article that you linked to was even more intriguing especially when I noted the contrast between your description of the article and the actual title. You introduced this link with the statement: "Worldwide, it's estimated that less than 1000 babies have been born from oocyte preservation," but the actual title of the article is: "Over 900 oocyte cryopreservation babies born with no apparent increase in congenital anomalies." By simply clicking on the link, I was able to go from an estimate of less than 1,000 uncertain births to a definite count of over 900 very successful births.
The difference between this particular study and your claim is even more striking when we notice that of these 936 documented births, only 12 had any kind of anomaly. In case you failed to recognize the significance of that statement, the authors of the study decided to spell it out for you by stating that "Compared with congenital anomalies occurring in naturally conceived infants, no difference was noted." When we compare that to a study conducted on a similar number of children conceived through standard IVF treatments which concluded that "Infants conceived through IVF have a slightly higher rate of major birth defects" ( http://web.mit.edu/7.72/restricted/readings/IVF_defects.pdf), we find that oocyte cryopreservation actually has less of a chance of producing birth defects than standard IVF practices.
Your comment regarding the third link is even more misleading than your statement about the second link. You correctly stated that "The largest studies done to date still demonstrate vastly lower implantation rates," but what you failed to mention was that those were studies of an outdated method of oocyte cryopreservation. The section of the article regarding modern oocyte cryopreservation methods is filled with reports of fertilization and implantation rates equivalant to those achieved with fresh oocytes.
On top of all of this, I have not found a single report which indicates that oocyte cryopreservation requires any specialized equipment beyond that used in embryo cryopreservation. Everything that I have read on the topic, including the links that you provided, has indicated that oocyte cryopreservation utilizes the same equipment and techniques as embryo cryopreservation.
I completely disagree with your assessment of the science, but rather than hash this out further here, I'm going to be taking it to our blog over the weekend.
That said, you need to concede that the posted study says nothing whatsoever to demolish the argument that personhood would make IVF illegal.
You are mistaken. The article does defeat that particular argument. It proves that IVF can be successfully performed without the destruction of "excess" embryos. The killing of human embryos is the only aspect of current IVF methods that would be banned under the Personhood Amendment. Since IVF can be successfully performed without such killing, it will not be banned by the Personhood Amendment.
By the way, I do not monitor your blog posts. If you have a refutation of my statements, I would appreciate it if you would post them here where I am certain to see them.
No, it proves no such thing. All normally dividing embryos which aren't transferred directly to the mother in a given IVF cycle are frozen for use on a future cycle, not discarded. Single-embryo transfer relies directly on the ability to freeze any remaining embryos -- if you have more than one embryo on day 5, you must transfer them all or transfer one and freeze the others.
If freezing is not permitted by 26, as has been suggested by pro-26ers up to and including Keith Mason, single-embryo transfer is not an option.
And yes, when I finish said post, I intend to post it the link here.
I cannot account for what other people may or may not have said about the Personhood Amendment, but I can assure you that their is nothing in the language of Amendment 26 which bans the freezing of human embryos. It would only make it illegal for them to be killed.
I think Keith Mason's voice is pretty authoritative on the issue, considering that he's the president of Personhood USA.
And if you want to quibble about what is and isn't in the amendment, we will all note that the amendment does not contain any direct references to numerous things that Yes On 26 explicitly claims will be prohibited by the amendment, such as IUDs. If it's to address those things, we must assume it should be read to broadly impact situations which unnecessarily threaten the life of the embryo, which would include the cryopreservation process.
Once again, you can't have it both ways. If it does all the things you want it to do, it also has the power to do things you don't wan't.
The Personhood Amendment simply equates the unborn child with every other human being under the law. Therefore, any actions taken toward that child would only be criminal if similar actions taken toward adults would be criminal under existing law. IUDs would be made illegal because they would be equivalent to shooting any adult who happens to trip on the sidewalk next to your property and fall across your fence. Similarly, any death of a cryopreserved embryo would have to be investigated to determine the cause of death just as is done in cases of deaths of other human beings.
Freezing an embryo would absolutely be considered the equivalent of negligence even if the embryo survived, and manslaughter if it didn't, if we consider it in the context of actions taken toward born humans.
It's known to the direct risk of destroying the embryo during the freeze/thaw process, and the indirect risk that thawed embryos are much less likely to be able to implant and grow into a pregnancy. Most importantly, it offers no benefit to the EMBRYO to offset these risks. From the embryo's perspective, fresh transfer is always preferable. Freezing is done exclusively for the safety of the mother.
If you believe that blastocysts should be precisely legally equivalent to born infants, you SHOULD oppose embryo freezing.
The solution, therefore, would be oocyte cryopreservation coupled with single embryo IVF as I have already mentioned.
Which, as I promise I will explain, is not a workable solution at the present time, and probably won't be for some years in the future. I'll table this argument while I finish that post.
I await your response.
[Atlee returned to this discussion in Debate 8]