Health Advice



Abortion bans made Minnesota a health care island. Could the same happen with IVF?

Emma Nelson, Star Tribune on

Published in Health & Fitness

Meta Getman heard the news out of Alabama and, suddenly, she was right back in it.

Getman and her husband had spent more than three years struggling with infertility — including four rounds of intrauterine insemination (IUI), three rounds of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and a six-month pause to weigh next steps — before eventually opting to conceive through IVF using donor eggs.

Their twin daughters are now 7 years old, and their family is complete. But for people across the country whose hopes for such a future hinge on IVF, the Alabama Supreme Court ruling that embryos should be considered children — and the resulting legal implications for clinics that store patients' frozen embryos — threw everything into question.

"I felt like I was tossed back into the raw emotions of my infertility experience in that I was really mad, I was really sad, I was shocked that people would think that," Getman, 43, said of the Feb. 16 ruling. "I couldn't believe that I lived in a country where this was happening, to be honest."

Though Alabama lawmakers and Gov. Kay Ivey quickly signed off on legislation protecting the state's doctors from potential legal liability, patients and advocates say they're still worried about restrictions cropping up elsewhere. For Minnesota, such a shift in the national health care landscape could mean an uptick in out-of-state patients seeking IVF care here, stretching a system already experiencing high demand.

Dr. April Batcheller, medical director at fertility clinic CCRM Minneapolis, said practitioners are accustomed to coordinating care for out-of-state patients.


"To me, what is worrisome about this is, it really perpetuates the haves and the have-nots," she said. "It is very possible to do a really good job of managing people remotely, but it requires a patient with the resources to fly here, to stay in a hotel. And that's probably where we're going to see an increased discrepancy in health care disparities."

Minnesota law protects reproductive health care, and the state has become an island for abortion care in the Upper Midwest with about 40% more out-of-state patients since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, according to Maggie Meyer, executive director at Pro-Choice Minnesota.

Our Justice, a Minnesota-based abortion fund, distributed $243,097 in 2023 to patients for medical expenses related to abortion care, a 66% increase from 2022, the organization said. In addition, the fund spent more than $9,700 on lodging for patients who traveled for care.

Though IVF and abortion are different procedures with different outcomes, they are linked.


swipe to next page

©2024 StarTribune. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


blog comments powered by Disqus