The 85th Texas legislative session is winding down, and we’re paying close attention to House Bill 785 that was introduced this January. If signed into law, HB 785 would help men and women who need in vitro fertilization (IVF) to resolve their infertility, and those who would pursue it given the chance to receive donated embryos to better afford the cost.
The bill defines embryo donation as “the act of transferring to another person a human embryo for implantation in any person who is not a genetic parent of the human embryo or the spouse of a genetic parent of the human embryo.”
In other words, it would provide an anonymous pathway between people who have “extra” embryos after their family is complete and the people who would be overjoyed to build their family with those donated embryos.
Dr. Kaylen Silverberg, medical director and co-founder of Texas Fertility Center, is often called upon to speak about legislation, insurance reforms and awareness campaigns that help more people gain access to affordable and effective fertility care. He assists elected state and federal officials as they seek to understand complex issues regarding reproductive health and infertility.
Sometimes it takes years to bring about lasting change. When the Texas Legislature convened in 2015, the issue of embryo donation was addressed as HB 1145. Dr. Silverberg lent his support then and now.
“As a board certified reproductive endocrinologist who struggles with this issue on the front lines every day, I – like most of my colleagues – am very supportive of this bill,” Dr. Silverberg said.
IVF combines gametes (sperm and eggs) to create embryos; most patients will have extra embryos after they complete their treatment cycles.
“Due to lack of clarity in the law, the absence of a mechanism for easy embryo donation, and potential exorbitant legal costs involved in developing ‘one off’ solutions, these embryos remain in a sort of legal limbo and stay frozen, doing no one any good,” Dr. Silverberg said.
He is frustrated that there is no process for transferring ownership from potential donor couples who are more than willing to donate their embryos to a couple who desires nothing more than to have their own child.
“This bill will significantly help us all achieve this goal,” he said. “If enacted, it can have a profound impact on the lives of thousands of Texans who have won the fight against infertility, yet still struggle continuously with this issue.”
“Potential recipient couples are waiting to hear that there is a solution that would allow them to receive these embryos, carry them to term, and raise them in a loving environment as their own,” Dr. Silverberg said. “This bill takes a significant step toward an ultimate solution whereby ‘extra’ embryos could achieve their potential and infertile couples could resolve their infertility. That would be a beautiful win-win.”