'Personhood' in the News in North Dakota


The North Dakota Senate Judiciary Committee is hearing testimony on hree bills  — SB 2302, SB 2303 and SB 4009 — aimed at defining an embryo (fertilized human egg) as a “person.”

Fertility doctors and many couples are distressed, particularly by Senate Bill 2302, which would limit the number of embryos a physician could transfer to two. It would also prevent a woman diagnosed with cancer from storing embryos during chemotherapy.

“Once again states are starting to introduce Personhood bills," says Barb Collura, president and CEO of RESOLVE: The National Infertilitiy Association. "RESOLVE stands with ASRM and other groups in opposing these types of bills and ballot initiatives. However, we are especially troubled by SB 2302 as the bill would outlaw embryo cryopreservation and has the North Dakota legislature telling fertility doctors how to treat their patients.  Regulating how many embryos can even be created and transferred is such an affront to the doctor-patient relationship.  The infertility community across the country should sit up and take notice that state legislatures are trying to regulate this field of medicine in ways that will have detrimental effects on patients.”

Here are descriptions of the three bills from the RESOLVE website:


  • SB-2302 would limit the number of eggs a doctor can fertilize to the number of embryos transferred in that cycle, which means only those embryos created in that cycle could be transferred. Fertility doctors would not be able to freeze any embryos, which would make fertility preservation for cancer patients impossible.
  • SB-2303 would give legal rights to newly fertilized eggs (embryos) The bill may also prevent preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and will not allow patients to dispose of their own embryos.
  • SB-4009 is a "personhood" ballot initiative to give legal rights to embryos. This ballot would amend the State of North Dakota’s Constitution and would be voted on in the 2014 election.

Several states last year, such as Mississippi and Virginia attempted passage of "personhood" legislation, which can have a far-reaching impact on in vitro fertilization (IVF), which require that several eggs are fertilized in a lab, with extras frozen for later use. the "personhood" amendment failed in Mississippi and was tabled until 2013 in Virginia.

For more information or to get involved, contact the North Dakota Women's Health Network or RESOLVE.

January 30, 2013
Posted by Leigh Ann Woodruff

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