A Heartbreaking Journey Through IVF

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According to official figures released in recent years in the UK, over 30 embryos are created for every ONE baby born by IVF.

To help personalize those staggering numbers a bit, “Jenny Vaughn” (a pseudonym) shares her journey through IVF, which involved creating 31 tiny human beings in a lab.

The doctor had retrieved 38 good eggs, of which 31 are fertilized. Over the next week, 16 of our embryonic children die and are discarded. Thirteen are cryogenically frozen, mostly two to a vial.

These newly formed, microscopic human beings were then graded for quality and we were encouraged to discard “low-grade” embryos that had little chance of survival. But because we couldn’t fully stifle our doubts about the wrongness of IVF, we insisted that all our viable embryos be preserved.

pregtest3_1.jpgRead more as Vaughn, herself a product of IVF, explains her spiritual awakening and desperately trying to give every one of her children a chance at life…only to have just one survive to be raised by her and her husband.

It’s a heartbreaking story, but an important one. Most people are clueless about IVF’s incredibly high death toll. They’re fed myths about the wonders of modern reproductive science, believing that they will easily become pregnant after their first IVF treatment.

I’ve also heard IVF advocates tout its necessity not just for the purpose of infertile people being able to have a biological child of their own, but because adoption is usually so expensive, costing anywhere from $5,000 to $40,000, and so full of red tape that it can take years to finally welcome a child into your home, if you ever do.

The reality, however, is that, like Vaughn, most women will go through multiple IVF cycles before an embryo will even attach itself in the womb, let alone survive until birth. And those babies aren’t cheap — nearly $15,000 per cycle.

Hardly a bargain compared to adoption. And with “success rates” as low as 40% in women under 35 and falling from there the older women get, coming away with a child is even less of a guarantee.

Going back to Vaughn, the most interesting part of her journey to me was when she mentioned going on a post-abortion retreat as part of her healing process:

Earlier [that] year, I went on a retreat for post-abortive parents, since I felt that what I’d done to my babies through IVF was similar. I felt mixed vibes from others there, possibly because most people don’t understand the complexity of IVF. But if life starts at conception, then you can have sorrow and regret for denying your children life through IVF, the same as you do with abortion.

I suddenly understood just how sacred every single person is to God. I realized how selfish my decisions had been in allowing my babies to be violently injected into my uterus after they’d endured the indignity of freezing and thawing. Yes, the violence paralleled that of abortion.

The similarities were further brought home to me when I read over the IVF and cryopreservation contracts for the first time a month later. I felt brokenhearted and ashamed as I read the dehumanizing language describing that most sacred process of creating human life.

Our babies were described as “cryopreserved material,” “concepti,” and “orphaned specimens.” Another section gave the clinic permission to take “Title” (ownership) of our embryos if we stopped the process, as if our children were commodities like cars. This consumerist mentality, combined with the emphasis on “cost effective treatment,” is what makes it acceptable for IVF children to be donated for research, abandoned, discarded, and even aborted through “selective reduction” when too many embryos stay alive after transfer.

The contract also stated that, “It is rare for an embryo to not survive thawing.” Half of our babies didn’t survive thawing. And, “Occasionally, an embryo is not found in the vial due to the nature of embryos to stick to the vial or pipette.” What incredible dangers we’d exposed our children to! Only one phrase in the entire contract spoke to the humanity of our children by calling them babies.

Being created in a lab and then frozen violates the dignity of these tiny human beings. Thawing and discarding is killing. Reducing women to incubators and men to sperm donors is also undignified. Children have a right to be the fruit of their parents’ loving union, not products to be bought, sold, donated, or trashed.

I wish more pro-lifers would see this connection. Would realize that IVF is just as much a human rights tragedy as abortion is.

You can also listen to Vaughn’s story in this exclusive CatholicSistas podcast.

Also recommended:

After 35 Years, IVF Still a Vast Experiment

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