IVF provides options for couples with rare genetic disorders

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one out of five couples have trouble conceiving after one year of trying. Many turn to assisted reproductive technology (ART), such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), due to fertility problems.

A smaller percentage may not struggle with infertility, but one or both partners carry genes putting their future children at risk for fatal disorders. IVF or other ART methods provide an option to grow their families without the risk of passing along deadly conditions to their children.

Couple with rare gene use IVF to conceive

Molly Wernick and Andrew Davies knew when they got married that they would need help from medical science to have a family. Both carry the gene for Tay-Sachs disease, which can be passed from parent to child. Tay-Sachs allows fatty substances in the body to build up until they reach toxic levels. Symptoms usually start when kids are 3 to 6 months old. Most children with the disease die by age 5.

Mollie and Andrew had already decided to pursue IVF when they married because embryos could be tested for the disorder before being implanted. Their son Miller was born last year without Tay-Sachs and is not a carrier. Without IVF, their chances of conceiving a fetus with the disorder were 25% and 50% for carrying the disease.

Reproductive rights complicate these decisions

While Miller is not at risk for Tay-Sachs disease, the couple’s other stored viable embryos carry the gene. Wernick and Davies want to have another child, but the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturning Roe v. Wade raises serious concerns.

They have already decided another round of IVF is not feasible to possibly produce embryos that don’t carry the gene. That means their next child will likely carry Tay-Sachs. The concern over abortion rights has become extremely personal. Once the fetus can be tested for the disease, they face the prospect of terminating the pregnancy at four months or watching their child die as an infant.

The couple and others have many concerns over the abortion debate. One worry is whether future legislation could affect frozen embryos they already have stored. For Wernick and Davies, reproductive rights are about more than just abortion. It’s about everyone’s right to determine what’s best for their families.

Addressing legal concerns for couples considering ART

IVF and other methods have helped countless Minnesota couples grow their families. But many who consider ART are unaware of the many legal issues they could face. That’s why it’s crucial to seek skilled guidance from attorneys specializing in assisted reproduction law. If you are considering IVF, an experienced attorney can help you understand the issues you may face and protect your interests.