When one of my sons came out as gay at age 14, I first yelled, “Mazel Tov!” (I was — and am — very proud of him). But the second thing I yelled, Jewish mom style, was “and if you ever want biological children, I know all about assisted reproductive technology (ART)!”
Granted, this was not what a 14-year-old wants to hear, but as a parent with a long fertility journey who had conceived this very child (and his twin) through in-vitro (IVF) and as a law professor focusing on ART laws, I had to share.
But now, as Pride Month winds down, we find ourselves looking at the Supreme Court overturning Roe, which, in addition to destroying other rights and freedoms, could also have a devastating impact on various types of ART.
I want to emphasize that not everyone in the beautiful LGBTQ+ rainbow wants to be a parent or wants biological children. And, of course, many cis-gender, straight individuals and couples need ART themselves. But for many in the LGBTQ+ community, building a biological family requires some intervention. In some of these cases, IVF is needed. But IVF requires the creation of embryos, and in order to be truly effective, often involves creation of more embryos than will be implanted: leftover embryos are saved (frozen), or donated, or given to science. This process requires the legal view that an embryo is not a human: state laws on embryos differ, but other than outlier Louisiana, state laws do not define embryos as human beings.
However, the leaked SCOTUS opinion of Dobbs (which would overturn Roe) uses language that discusses an embryo as “potential life.” Moreover, the opinion rewrites longstanding legal protections of bodily autonomy. All of this could embolden states to enact more restrictive laws on disposition of embryos, or regulating — or trying to ban — IVF altogether. And again, Dobbs threatens so much more than this, but as we talk about the impact of the case, we need to be aware of all the consequences.
So why should Oak Park care about this? Well, obviously, Oak Park tries to be an inclusive and welcoming community. I know that my son was embraced and empowered by growing up in the Oak Park area “bubble,” and we proudly fly our pride flag all year (the bubble extends even into River Forest, where we live).
We are a vocal community, we protest, we march, and we are agents of change. So as we, as Oak Parkers, even in our bubble, even in very blue Illinois, think about the impact of Roe overturned, let’s not forget: This case could deprive some of us — and our children — of building families, and that heartbreaking reality needs vocal opposition.
Sonia Bychkov Green is a proud mom of four college/grad school-aged sons, a longtime resident of River Forest, and a professor at UIC Law.