Insurance mandate for in vitro fertilization
Published on March 8th, 2019
Memorandum of Opposition
Re: A.2817 Simotas / S.719 Savino
In relation to an insurance mandate for in vitro fertilization
The above-referenced legislation would require large group health insurance plans to cover the costs of in vitro fertilization (IVF), gamete and embryo transfers, and other assisted reproductive technologies. The New York State Catholic Conference opposes this legislation, as well as language proposed in the 2019-2020 Executive Budget which would accomplish the same goals.
While the Catholic Church empathizes with childless married couples yearning for the joys of parenthood, the Conference holds grave concerns with this insurance mandate. These concerns include the legislation’s a) requirement for funding acts that destroy innocent human embryos, both inside and outside the womb; b) endorsement of technologies which promote the manufacture of human beings, contribute to the breakdown of family relationships, and interfere with the natural act of marital sexual intercourse; and c) lack of any conscience protection for religious employers and those with ethical objections to assisted reproductive technologies.
A) Destruction of Human Embryos
Many of the assisted reproductive technologies available today, including IVF, routinely involve the creation, freezing, discarding, and systematic destruction of living human embryos in order to bring one healthy child to term. Initially, the process requires the fertilization of numerous eggs in the laboratory in order to be marginally effective. The embryos not implanted are then either discarded immediately or frozen for later use; many do not survive the freezing and defrosting processes. In reality, the majority of embryonic children created by IVF procedures will eventually end up deceased.
Practitioners generally choose to transfer greater numbers of embryos than fewer, to increase the chance that at least one will implant; this increases the likelihood of multiple gestations. According to the NYS Task Force on Life and the Law (Assisted Reproductive Technologies, April 1998, page 128), “The use of fertility drugs and the transfer of multiple embryos into the uterus during IVF creates a recognized risk that more embryos will implant than can safely be carried to term. In recent years, practitioners have relied on access to ‘fetal reduction’ – the destruction of one or more embryos so the remaining ones have a better chance – to manage these hazardous situations.” Simply put, fetal reduction is abortion.
The Catholic Church views the manipulation and destruction of living human embryos through assisted reproductive technologies as an assault on the dignity and value of human life. Each human embryo possesses unique DNA, and need only nutrition and the safe environment of the womb to grow and develop. Living human embryos must not be used as a means to an end because they are, like all precious human beings, an end in and of themselves.
B) Concerns with Assisted Reproductive Technologies
The Catholic Church supports and assists couples in overcoming infertility through the use of scientifically-based diagnostics, drugs and procedures that assist marital sexual intercourse in reaching its natural procreative potential. This type of “restorative reproductive medicine” can diagnose and resolve underlying fertility issues and treat reproductive disorders in an effective, less invasive, less costly manner than IVF. Restorative reproductive medicine can markedly reduce the chances of multiple pregnancies, premature births and miscarriages, and decrease other potential maternal complications as well.
The Catholic Church cannot support in vitro fertilization because it separates the natural sexual act from the conception of a child. A man and a woman supply the raw material for a technician to produce a child, grow him or her in a nutrient culture, and insert the child into the mother’s womb. This is done in exchange for many thousands of dollars.
IVF procedures are an artificial means of reproduction which treat children as merchandise to be manufactured, bought, and disposed of at will.
It is easy to see how this mentality can lead to other abuses as well, resulting from the desire to manufacture the best product most efficiently. Embryos produced in a laboratory can be pre-screened for genetic defects or a predisposition to certain diseases, or even for gender and eye color, and thrown away if they fail quality control.
C) Lack of Conscience Protection
This legislation contains no conscience protection for religious employers, religious organizations or closely held for-profit employers with religious objections to certain assisted reproductive technologies. Our Conference has consistently and strongly advocated for the inclusion of protections which would exempt religious institutional employers from paying for such mandates.
Current law already requires health insurance plans to cover the diagnosis and treatment of infertility, but does not extend coverage to IVF, gamete and embryo transfers. Nor does current law extend the coverage mandate to human cloning, sterilization reversals, and experimental procedures, a policy that would be maintained under this legislation. For all of the above-mentioned reasons, we believe New York’s current law draws appropriate lines and we therefore urge lawmakers to reject A.2817 / S.719.