Why Limits on Embryo Transfers Are Like Motorcycle Helmet Laws
Some of the arguments I’m hearing for limits on the number of embryos that can be implanted in a woman are similar to the arguments for motorcycle helmet laws. For example, this is from the Post-Dispatch story today:
“If you implant eight embryos into a woman, you’re putting her life at risk and you’re putting the lives of the eight babies at risk, and the taxpayers are going to have the burden of paying for it,” Schaaf said.
That’s State Rep. Robert Schaaf, explaining why he thinks the state is justified in interfering with fertility treatment decisions. Sound familiar? That’s what people say in support of motorcycle helmet laws. If you get into a crash without a helmet on your head, taxpayers pay for the ambulance you ride in, hospital emergency room, and so on. Therefore, the state can’t allow you to take any risks.
The article uncovers another horrible policy idea: forcing insurance companies to pay for in vitro fertilization. The rationale is that people are asking doctors to implant large numbers of embryos to improve their chances, because they don’t want to have to pay for another round of treatment. Obviously, an insurance mandate would raise premiums for everyone–kind of like how when you have octuplets, everyone’s taxes have to help pay for the care if you can’t afford to support them. Except women rarely give birth to octuplets, so one or two cases don’t really have any deleterious effect on taxpayers, although women receive fertility treatments all the time. An insurance mandate would spread a burden across society, all in the hopes of preventing another burden that hasn’t materialized yet and probably never will.
I have my own idea for a new law. Give women the choice of risky fertility treatments. Just make them sign a form that if they give birth to octuplets, they’ll guarantee that the children will always wear helmets when riding motorcycles. You’ll have increased risk from the treatment, and decreased risk from the safe motorcycle riding. They’ll cancel each other out.