Close to home

April 6th, 2012

As we prepare for Infertility Awareness Week later this month, we’re more in tune than ever to the recent scrutiny of ART. We’ve watched, a bit from afar, as the battle for women’s health rights – and, in turn, defending access to ART – wages around the country.  With our main offices in Illinois and Colorado, two states that are quite progressive and accessible when it comes to IVF, we are at an advantage. It’s always been important for us to keep in perspective that not all parts of the country are as “friendly” toward the technology.

This reality hit close to home recently, when Reproductive Endocrinologist Dr. Randy Morris made plans to open a fertility clinic in Naperville, Illinois. This middle-upper class town of 140,000 about 45 minutes outside of Chicago is home to many families, college students, and young professionals. It seems an appropriate place to open a clinic that would help build families. After obtaining initial approval from Naperville’s City Council, and completing zoning and other necessary paperwork, the path was clear to proceed.

Until the personhood movement got involved.

A City Council meeting on Tuesday ran for nearly 3 hours with more than 50 residents speaking up on both sides. Activists, many of them members of a Naperville Catholic parish, criticized the city and the plan it was approving. Claiming a matter of human dignity, Reverend Thomas Milota said, “Those embryos that have not been implanted also have value and worth.”

Pro-Life Action League member Eric Scheidler went so far as to tell the council, “Human life is being cheapened through the practice of IVF.”

The possibility of protesting outside the future clinic was brought up. Which raises an ironic image – people protesting for human life. In front of a clinic that helps build families.

While Milota says his concerns are more practical and are unconnected to the personhood movement, the fact remains that these groups are infringing on the right to make a responsible and well-informed decision about reproductive options.  The decision to use ART, and in turn, what to do with the resulting embryos, is a private, very personal issue between patient and doctor.

An ethical clinic provides education to their patients and follows strict regulations – these practices are in place for a reason. We support the growth of these clinics and were pleased to see that, in the end, the Naperville City Council voted 7-2 in favor of the Naperville Family Building Center. Not the Naperville Fertility Center, its original name.

While a healthy dose of debate keeps the issue of ethical fertility treatment at the forefront, it’s important that the choice remains an accessible option for intended parents trying to build a family.