Bill Would Let LGBTQ Couples Write-off Controversial IVF Fertility Procedure
One of the leading figures in the Trump impeachment saga says his new bill will rectify the “iniquity” in U.S. laws by giving economic benefits to same-sex couples to hire surrogate mothers — but family experts say his rosy analysis forgets the rights of one person: the child.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) introduced the “Equal Access to Reproductive Care” Act (H.R. 8190), which would allow people who identify as LGBT and single individuals to write off the cost of fertility treatments, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), from their taxes. Currently, the IRS only grants a tax exemption to people who are medically defined as infertile — meaning that they cannot conceive after a year of intimate relations with the opposite sex.
Schiff presented the move as a bill that would right injustices, even using biblical language (or a possible typo) in his press release. “Right now, our tax code is sorely outdated and makes it harder for LGBTQ+ individuals and couples to afford treatments to bring children into their families, such as IVF. This bill would rectify this iniquity,” said Schiff, who rose to prominence by propounding since-discredited claims that he could prove President Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russian government.
Schiff boasted that his bill has been endorsed by such socially liberal pressure groups as Men Having Babies, the Human Rights Campaign, and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders.
One IVF cycle costs anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000, but the full costs for the use of a surrogate mother range from $60,000 to more than $150,000, according to Forbes. Giving LGBT activists a massive tax cut seems out-of-step with the Biden administration, which looks to hire up to 87,000 new IRS agents to hunt for hidden tax revenue.
The bill’s supporters justify it on the grounds of social justice and intersectionality. A spokesperson for Schiff’s co-sponsor, Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), said the bill aids Chu’s efforts at “building health equity for all.” LGBT activist Tony Hoang of Equality California insisted the policy would rectify “systemic inequities that LGBTQ+ people face.”
But one of the nation’s leading family advocates explained that this bill, like so much of the Left’s social agenda, relies on redefining the commonly accepted meaning of words — in this case, the word infertile. “The reality is that many of these same-sex couples or single adults … who are going to seek these services are totally fertile, but their relationship status is not,” said Katy Faust, the founder of the global children’s rights group Them Before Us, as well as the author of a book by the same name. “In the name of equality and inclusivity, we are redefining ‘infertility’ so that single men, single women, and same-sex couples can have these subsidized services. And of course, all of these children are going to go home with adults where there is going to be either a mother or a father missing from their home,” or both.
“Children have a right to be known and loved by their mother and father,” Faust told “Washington Watch” guest host Joseph Backholm on Thursday. “We honor that fundamental right … to have the maternal and paternal love that maximizes child development.”
By definition, IVF creates life at the behest of whoever foots the bill, and the use of a third party's reproductive material via “donation” and/or surrogacy separates the child from one or both biological parents. Since the 1970s, IVF has become a hefty business, lining the pockets of fertility clinics, sperm donors, and often-desperate surrogate mothers who carry the child to term. IVF is expected to become a $36 billion industry by 2026. The CDC’s national summary reports one million babies conceived by reproductive technologies such as IVF were born in the U.S. between 1987 and 2015; and the procedure creates 84,000 babies a year, according to the CDC.
“We do love children. We love babies, but we don’t like commodifying babies, and we don’t like violating the natural rights of babies,” Faust said. “It’s really not the Equal Access to Reproductive Care Act. It really is the Subsidizing of Intentional Motherless and Fatherless Act. And it needs to be opposed.”
IVF frequently ends multiple lives for every child produced. During IVF, doctors select 10 to 12 eggs at a time, of which, an average of eight will be successfully fertilized into a newly conceived child. But as few as 30% of all embryos survive the five or six days necessary to become a blastocyst, leaving three to four surviving for transfer to the donor. Overall, IVF miscarriage rates are high: The odds of a woman giving birth to a live, full-term, healthy child fall rapidly from 17% at age 37 to 0.6% at age 44. Children born to surrogate mothers have lower birth weights and were more likely to be born premature or by caesarean section, a 2017 study found.
The newly fertilized children who are not implanted are often destroyed. No one knows how many unborn babies are discarded in the U.S. — neither the federal government nor industry groups require clinics to report those numbers. But in the U.K., which has one-fifth the population of the United States, parents discarded 1.7 million frozen embryos, or roughly half of all children conceived artificially, between 1991 and 2012. Test-tube babies may also perish due to technological problems. For instance, in 2018 the Cleveland-based University Hospitals system revealed that the temperature in its storage unit accidentally rose so high that all 4,000 embryos had been lost.
Unused embryos may also be donated to another couple or left frozen indefinitely. The number of frozen embryos in the U.S. is estimated between 620,000 and one million, many of them residing in a state of earthly limbo. Parents have simply abandoned “hundreds of thousands” of unborn children in cryopreservation, experts tell NBC News, often to avoid the $1,000 annual storage costs.
Healthy children who survive the surrogacy/sperm donation process grapple with “feelings of commodification,” with roughly half feeling “disturbed that their conception was a financial transaction,” Faust told Backholm. They may feel “genealogical bewilderment,” not knowing their genetic history and potential medical issues.
But most of all, they long for the love of the parents who conceived them. “Children conceived through third-party reproductive technologies overwhelmingly agree that the donor who contributed half of their genetics is actually their biological parent — their own father or their own mother — and it’s a relationship that these children crave,” Faust noted. They also report “longing to know their missing parent, longing to know their dozens or maybe hundreds of half siblings out in the world,” as well as “feelings of being designed, purchased, and that eugenics played a role in this.” Surrogate mothers — whom IVF calls “gestational carriers” — also suffer from documented higher rates of gestational diabetes, hypertension, and pre-eclampsia.
Sometimes, the pain inflicted on children conceived by surrogacy goes far beyond feelings of abandonment and confusion. Unlike adoption, surrogacy laws “do not mandate background checks or home visits to ensure the child is being born to safe, loving parents,” notes Emma Waters, a research associate at the Heritage Foundation. “As a consequence, it’s not uncommon to hear heartbreaking stories of male-commissioned surrogate children used for child pornography, pedophilia, or living in homes with men who have histories of sex-related crimes.” Multiple studies show children raised by same-sex couples are 35% less likely to graduate high school, and twice as likely to suffer emotional problems or ADHD, than those raised in traditional families.
“Surrogacy, by design, severs the natural ties of children to their parents,” Waters said.
“Marriage is an issue of social justice for children,” Faust has said. “Regardless of who is using these technologies — single, married, gay or straight — these are child-harming technologies that need to be rejected.”
Schiff’s bill, which was introduced in June, currently has 29 co-sponsors. He says the bill may come up for a vote as early as this fall.
Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.