Measure 1 in N.D. threatens IVF

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Election Day is less than one month away. Standing on both sides of the voting isle dangles a personhood amendment in North Dakota, Measure 1, rallied by extremists with the intent to change its state constitution.  If passed, Measure 1 could threaten birth control, stem-cell research, and in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Election year is prime time for personhood bills to emerge.

According to the Jamestown Sun, reporter, Ryan Johnson explains there is one infertility treatment clinic in North Dakota, Sanford Reproductive Medicine Clinic, which offers IVF.

If Measure 1 passes, all IVF treatments will come to a screeching halt.

IVFFor Measure 1, the Nov. ballot spells out the following, “The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.”

Dr. Stephanie Dahl of the Sanford Reproductive Medicine Clinic said if Measure 1 passes, IVF would no longer be an option.

Johnson writes, “It will affect hundreds of North Dakota families who dream of having children,” Dahl said. She continued, “IVF is often the only successful option for infertility patients, especially those diagnosed with male-factor infertility.”

In his article, Johnsons explains how the treatment in creating an embryo may at times produce abnormal eggs, which would not be suitable for implantation.

Dahl told reporters at a press conference, “However, under Measure 1, these abnormally fertilized eggs must be protected, even if they have no chance of growing into a healthy baby and will result in miscarriage,” she said. “Even a lab accident, such as an incubator malfunction that destroys embryos, could become a criminal offense.”

According to Johnson, although the North Dakota Medical Association opposed the legislation in 2013, as voting day nears, they’re standing on new ground.  It won’t oppose nor support.

Dr. Steffen Christensen took part in opening the doors to the Sanford Reproductive Medicine Clinic two decades ago.  To date, he told reporters, more than 1,000 children were born through the medical efforts of the clinic.

“But this measure could ‘literally shut us down,’” said Christensen, adding how it could push him into retirement.  Christensen also wanted reporters to know, “If approved, his colleagues could face criminal charges for what they do on a routine basis.  We’ve been successful, we’ve followed all the ethical rules and regulations and we want to continue to serve the patients of North Dakota and our whole region.”

Johnson reported if Sanford Reproductive Medicine Clinic is forced to close its doors, the patients they would have served will now have to journey to others states.

In Valley News Life, Dahl was reported saying, “If Measure 1 passes, we will stop offering IVF immediately. We will begin the process of finding other centers in Minnesota and in South Dakota and Colorado to accept our patients.”

National reproductive health groups are opposing this ballot line item.

According to Wday.com, reporter Keven Wallevand said these national groups, championed by medical specialists, have echoed their Measure 1 opposition.

He writes, “The American Society for Reproductive Medicine says Measure 1 would insert the government into personal medical decisions, and would mean the end of in vitro for couples trying to have children.”

In N.D., sprouting around churches are political signs urging residents to vote “Yes” on Measure 1.  And embedded in church bulletins, Wallevand writes, are inserts voicing the same.

Hundreds, if not thousands of people requiring and needing IVF will be ill-affected if this passes.

An alliance of North Dakota residents has created a grassroots campaign and organization called, “North Dakotans Against Measure 1 (NDAM1).”  Their mission is to overthrow Measure 1.

On their website, they clearly engage visitors with the following message, “NDAM 1 believes Measure 1 is poorly written and the unclear language leaves it open to interpretation – leading to more government intrusion into our personal lives. Measure 1 may seem harmless, but it is an extreme and dangerous law. It would have serious unintended consequences if passed.”  It continues, “Government should not be interfering in our personal decisions.”

I’m always proud of grassroots organizations such as this, which has the heart and passion to stand up and fight.

My personal feelings on this measure and these types of “personhood bills” are that a woman’s reproductive rights are just that: hers.

Move forward on legislation highlighting “safety and security,” but don’t cordon off limitations on how a woman procreates.

Infertility treatments are rarely covered by insurance and are incredibly expensive.  To now ask that these couples and individuals drive out of state for treatment is ludicrous – and it all boils down to those who oppose abortion rights.