Illinois Democrats are Suggesting New Measures to Either Safeguard or Broaden in Vitro Fertilization (IVF) Access


Illinois Democratic lawmakers are spearheading multiple bills to enhance and protect access to in vitro fertilization (IVF) and other fertility treatments, a move crucially timed as conservative-leaning courts and lawmakers in states like Alabama are pushing for expansive definitions of “personhood” that could impact such treatments.

The Alabama Supreme Court’s recent ruling, which classified frozen embryos from IVF as “extrauterine children,” has raised concerns and prompted proactive measures in Illinois to safeguard reproductive rights.

Eve Feinberg, an infertility specialist and president of the Chicago Coalition for Family Building, expressed alarm over the legal developments, particularly following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, fearing that states could start considering fertilized eggs as citizens.

Illinois Democrats (Credits: WBEZ)

IVF, a common fertility treatment, involves fertilizing eggs with sperm outside the body and transferring resulting embryos to the uterus. Given the unpredictability of success, multiple embryos are often created, raising ethical questions regarding their disposition.

Nicole Huberfeld, a Health Law professor, explained that while only one embryo is typically implanted, several may be created to increase the chances of success. However, the Alabama ruling complicates matters, as it essentially deems all embryos as children, limiting options for the remaining embryos.

The potential legal implications have led to clinics halting IVF treatments in Alabama, and Feinberg has received inquiries from worried patients fearing the same in Illinois.

Illinois has been proactive in protecting reproductive rights, with laws requiring insurance coverage for egg or sperm cell preservation and expanding coverage for fertility treatments to include same-sex couples and single individuals.

Governor JB Pritzker has expressed willingness to solidify these rights into the state constitution further. State Rep. Kelly Cassidy has proposed a $500 tax credit to support physicians and patients relocating from states with restrictive healthcare laws, similar to a strategy implemented for abortion care.

Despite these efforts, lawmakers and advocates remain vigilant, anticipating potential challenges from other states. Republican legislators in Colorado and Iowa have introduced bills defining personhood as beginning at fertilization, echoing the Alabama ruling.

In response, Illinois is exploring ways to make fertility treatments more accessible and affordable. State Sen. Cristina Castro’s measure aims to broaden insurance coverage for infertility diagnosis and treatment, potentially easing the financial burden for those seeking fertility care.

Overall, Illinois is striving to maintain its status as a progressive beacon for reproductive rights, ensuring that individuals have access to a range of reproductive healthcare options.