One talking point that has been raised by Personhood advocates (including Keith Mason of Personhood USA, in our BBC Newshour segment) is that studies of single-embryo IVF transfers are beginning to show good results. The implication is that it’s no big deal to limit the number of eggs that doctors can fertilize, because it doesn’t hurt success rates.
This is absolutely not true. In fact, I think it’s fair to call this an outright lie.
There is a world of difference between TRANSFERRING one embryo and CREATING one embryo.
As our FAQ explains, a majority of eggs will not fertilize correctly or continue to divide in the lab (or in nature, for that matter). These can’t be transferred back into the mother, because they have already stopped dividing. So, when you hear about doctors creating many embryos and transferring only two, remember that most of the rest are not transferred because they have not survived the process. They’re not being “wantonly discarded” — they’re not “alive”, and are not candidates to be transferred.
In order to have one good embryo to transfer, you must still attempt to fertilize several eggs, to guarantee that at least one embryo will survive to be returned to the mother’s uterus. Additionally, you must also have the ability to freeze any other embryos which survive to the same point.
Initiative 26 would prohibit both of these practices, and elective single embryo transfer would not be available under personhood.
When someone tells you that personhood wouldn’t ban IVF, and cites single-embryo transfer studies to support that, they are either mistaken or lying. Single-embryo transfer is a great way to help IVF patients avoid multiple pregnancies, but it’s not a way to do IVF under the restrictions that personhood would impose.