Please call or e-mail your senator and encourage them to support HB 1450 the Defense of Human Life Act. Below is some information about HB 1450 and what it will and will not do. This has been put together as a frequently asked question format.
To find your senator go to this link to find them by name or district
go to this link to contact the members of the senate judiciary committee hearing HB 1450
Overview of HB 1450, The Defense of Human Life Act:
What does this bill do? HB 1450 provides equal protection under the law for all human beings in North Dakota, at every stage of development.
Does HB 1450 protect mothers from prosecution? Yes, the bill explicitly exempts the mother from punishment for any harm to her unborn child whether the harm was intentional or unintentional. (Page 5 lines 20-22 and page 6 lines 5-7 “Sections 12.1 - 16 - 01 through 12.1 - 16 - 03 apply only to the principal actor, other than the pregnant woman, with respect to criminal conduct upon a person who has not yet been born.”)
Does HB 1450 allow IVF? Yes, the bill explicitly states that it allows IVF. (Page 5 line 16 and page 6 line 1 The creation of a new human being through in vitro fertilization,) Louisiana has adopted similar language regarding embryos created for fertility treatment and IVF clinics in Louisiana have remained fully functional. The bill would only prohibit treatments that require the intentional destruction of “excess” embryos that have been mass produced even though they are unwanted. (page 5 line 11-15 and 27-31) Responsible collection, conservation, preparation, transfer, or cryopreservation would not be prohibited.
Does HB 1450 protect the life of the mother? Yes, the bill explicitly allows treatment for life-threatening conditions (page 5 line 11-15 and 27-31) even if they result in the death of another person (i.e. the unborn child).
Other thoughts on HB 1450:
Do frozen embryos have inheritance rights?
HB 1450 would have no effect on inheritance whatsoever. All of the language in HB1450 is exclusively applied to the criminal code (Title 12.1) while inheritance law is all in chapter 30.1. So inheritance, insurance, voting rights, driver’s licenses, drinking, and any other non-criminal matter would not apply to HB 1450, because none of these things are Title 12.1.
What happens if the couple divorces?
The answer is the exact same thing that happens now. Custody of the embryo is given to one spouse or the other. If there is a disagreement the decision is made by a judge. This already happens regardless of whether or not the embryo is recognized as a human being.
How long do those frozen embryos usually live?
“No one knows what the maximum storage period might be. Procedures for human embryo freezing were developed in 1984 and only went into widespread use in the late 1980s. Some patients have come back after 10-12 years and the embryos have been thawed successfully. Beyond this time frame, we don't know how long an embryo will remain viable.”
Is it possible to create one or two embryos at a time or do they always create several as a matter of finding one or two worthy of transplant?
It is possible to create one or two embryos at a time. In fact many IVF clinics recommend this method because the success rate is higher but others do prefer to create many embryos and then "selectively reduce" (i.e. abort) unwanted embryos on account of cost and/or convenience.
American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has the following guidelines on embryo transfer: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123603828823714509.html
How much does it cost to keep them frozen?
According to this website for a Florida IVF clinic
the cost of embryo storage is $300/yr. You can see on this page that it is a relatively modest cost compared to the total cost of the procedure, and it is important to remember that it would only be incurred if a decision was made to create more embryos than are wanted.
May they be adopted?
Embryos can be adopted and they frequently are. Maria Lancaster, a woman who runs an adoption program for embryos created during IVF, testified in front of the House Human Services Committee in 2009.