Austin fertility doctor says don’t panic
AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the on-call doctor at the Texas Fertility Clinic over the weekend, Dr. Kaylen Silverberg got dozens of questions from patients.
“Of the 75, 80 patients I saw this weekend… Over half of them asked me questions, some of them quite hysterically, about what do they do now? Because they’re not going to be able to do IVF,” Dr. Silverberg said.
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He said as far as they understand, that’s incorrect; In vitro fertilization should not be affected by Roe v. Wade being overturned and Texas’ subsequent trigger law going into effect.
“There is no prohibition on stimulating a woman’s ovaries to make eggs. There is no prohibition against getting eggs out. There’s no prohibition against getting sperm from the male. There’s no prohibition about injecting or inseminating eggs with sperm. There’s no prohibition against growing embryos in the laboratory. There’s no prohibition against biopsying embryos to determine if they’ve got a genetic disease or chromosomal disease. There’s no prohibition about freezing embryos, there’s no prohibition about transferring embryos,” Silverberg listed. “So, those are the steps that we do. And not a single step is affected by this.”
Silverberg said fertility leaders started meeting with attorneys to discuss this last month, when the Supreme Court of the United States’ ruling was leaked.
He said even in a specialized case of possibly needing to discard an embryo due to a disease or chromosomal abnormality, that hasn’t been discussed or decided.
“There’s been no regulation ruling or anything on prohibiting our ability to discard that embryo, that embryo has essentially a 0.0% chance of survival,” he said, adding that couples can opt not to transfer the embryo. “It’s not aborting a pregnancy if you never create a pregnancy.”
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But now it’s about making sure that policymakers, prosecutors and law enforcement officials are on the same page.
“One of the dark clouds potentially on the horizon is knee-jerk reactions without the knowledge that is necessary to make the appropriate, correct decision,” he said.
He said he doesn’t want to end up in court, for example, facing a lawsuit by the Texas Attorney General.
“I have a very strong desire to work with our representatives in Congress to make sure that it never gets to that point, that we talk these issues through that when laws in states are codified, there is an understanding,” he said.
Silverberg said they’re already reaching out to elected officials. They’re also working on putting a statement online to calm worried patients, like the one that’s already on their laboratory’s website, Ovation Fertility.
“According to most experts in the industry, it does not appear that any of the current laws are intended to limit IVF. However, we are working closely with our colleagues at ASRM and RESOLVE to monitor any state activities or laws that would characterize embryos in a way that would limit IVF, freezing, storage and related fertility services.
We will also work very closely with our physicians, clinical experts and legal team to modify any practices to ensure legal compliance, as legal compliance and patient rights are key principles for Ovation.
These times do create uncertainty. However, for now, and until we learn more, we are staying the course of providing outstanding reproductive services to our patients. As we learn more, we will keep you informed of any changes and share updates as they become available.”
“It wasn’t written over this weekend, it was written in May,” Silverberg said regarding the statement. “And it was written in consultation with the American Fertility Society, it was written in consultation with RESOLVE, it was written consultation with reproductive rights lawyers.”