Doctors say IVF treatment process likely to get more complicated, costly amid overturn of Roe

Stephanie Sierra Image
Wednesday, June 29, 2022
How IVF, fertility treatments could change amidst Roe overturn
Doctors say with the overturn of Roe, IVF process will likely get more complicated with heighten risks, and drive up costs for women across the U.S.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The overturn of Roe will is raising serious concerns about the future of fertility treatments.

Doctors tell ABC7 the process will likely get more complicated, heighten risks, and drive up costs for women across the country.

"I think it does put the practice of IVF at jeopardy," said Dr. Marcelle Cedars, the director of UCSF's Reproductive Endocrine and Infertility Division.

VIDEO: Which states are banning abortion immediately? State-by-state breakdown of abortion laws, bans

The Supreme Court ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade and the fundamental right to abortion that has been the law for almost 50 years.

The risk to IVF

Cedars explains the future of In vitro fertilization or IVF could be at risk because some of the legislation banning or restricting abortions defines the beginning of life at fertilization. This could have major implications on infertility care, which is an $8 billion industry.

"It scares me a great deal," said Cedars. "I think there is concern by individuals, couples, and families in states that have pending bans. What happens to their embryos? Can they discard them, freeze them, or transfer them?"

IVF often involves the insertion of multiple embryos to increase chances of a successful pregnancy. Healthcare professionals and patients fear if some pregnancies are terminated, as is common with these procedures, would that be prohibited under these bans? That's a fear facing women in at least 26 states that will likely ban or severely restrict abortion.

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"If you're held liable for any bad outcome even if it's not really your fault - that's a legal ramification people are worried about," said Dr. Ruben Alvero, the division director of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Stanford Children's Health.

Alvero says among these 26 states -- legal ramifications facing patients may even include miscarriages.

"Women who have a miscarriage could be blamed for the miscarriage," Alvero said. "Somewhere between ten to 30% of pregnancies result in a miscarriage."

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CDC data shows the outcome of the Roe v. Wade ruling will impact Black and Latinx women the most, putting them in a greater risk of death and poverty.

Longer wait times

These fears women in California likely won't face given the existing laws safeguarding reproductive rights. The real impact coming to the state will be heightened demand from patients coming outside California that may further limit access and eventually drive up costs.

"We always have a wait period and it's something we always try to get people through," Alvero said. "Demand is an issue, and that's certainly going to increase the wait times for these patients."

IVF clinics across the country - including the Bay Area --- are already battling a patient backlog from the pandemic.

RELATED: NorCal Planned Parenthood clinics ready for influx of patients after Roe v. Wade decision

Higher risk procedures

Dr. Cedars says if states pass regulations that limit the number of embryos allowed to be inserted -- that could put patients at higher risk.

"If there are restrictions as there have been in other countries, where you have to limit the number of embryos you can make. For example, you can only inseminate three eggs and have to transfer more embryos than they need... you're putting them and their children at high risk of complications," she said.

Cedars added it will also decrease the efficiency of a typical procedure and make it more expensive.

According to a report by the Pacific Fertility Center, on average the cost of an IVF treatment in California ranges between $8,000 to $13,000 per cycle without medication. But for parents using third-party IVF treatments, costs spike to range between $14,000 up to $46,000. Other organizations report an even wider price gap.

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