FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL: Republican Oklahoma Rep. Josh Brecheen is calling on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide transparency on in vitro fertilization practices in the United States.

In a letter first obtained by The Daily Signal and sent Tuesday, Brecheen points out that other Western countries prohibit clinics from “practicing eugenics or carelessly destroying human life,” arguing that the U.S. does not even require IVF clinics to be transparent about their participation in these types of practices.

“This carelessness has earned the U.S. the title of the ‘Wild West’ of assisted reproductive technology,” the congressman wrote.

The move comes as Republicans grapple with both messaging and legislating on IVF—a topic that some on the right have serious moral and ethical qualms with, given the expendable way in which human embryos are often treated.

Following the Alabama Supreme Court ruling in favor of protecting embryonic human life, Republicans on Capitol Hill have suddenly found themselves being asked to state their position on IVF, a nuanced subject matter tied closely to the dignity of the human person and the fight for life.

Despite media suggesting the contrary, the state Supreme Court did not ban IVF but merely ruled in favor of protecting embryonic human life. Justice Jay Mitchell wrote in his opinion that “unborn children are ‘children’” under the state’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act.

Experts like The Heritage Foundation’s Emma Waters have argued that the ruling brought “much-needed regulation” to the fertility industry in the United States. (Heritage founded The Daily Signal in 2014.)

Waters pointed out that only a handful of state laws actually address the “moral and ethical questions raised by the artificial creation of human life.”

“This decision ensures that the well-being of children, not financial gain, is the top priority when it comes to IVF and embryonic cryopreservation,” Waters argued.

But IVF promises to be a complicated thorn in the side of Republicans, many of whom are already unsure how to successfully message on abortion ahead the 2024 election cycle—and Democrats are eager to harness both issues.

While some Republicans, like Rep. Anna Paulina Luna of Florida, were quick to propose legislation providing a “right to try” IVF, Brecheen cautions that the United States should be examining its IVF practices and providing more responsible guardrails, as other Western nations have done.

“According to our nation’s birth certificate, the Declaration of Independence, government is instituted among men to secure the right to Life,” Brecheen told The Daily Signal. “The IVF industry is lacking accountability on this front.”

A human embryo in the amniotic sac at ninth week of gestation. (Photo: DEA, L. RICCIARINI, De Agostini/Getty Images)

“The American people must be made fully aware of how many embryos the IVF industry destroys and the decisions behind this destruction of human life,” he added. “Congress cannot continue to allow clinics to conceal their activities from the public, and that is why we are demanding answers.”

The letter to the CDC is co-signed by Reps. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., and Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., and supported by pro-family and pro-life groups, including Americans United for Life, Students for Life Action, the Family Research Council, CatholicVote, Concerned Women for America, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and SBA Pro-Life America.

“Since its inception, the IVF industry in the United States has created millions of lives and has done so completely without federal protections for children, parents, and families,” Mary Szoch, director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council, told The Daily Signal.

“You don’t have to look far to see the abuses that have taken place because of this lack of protection,” she added. “Embryos destroyed without parental knowledge or consent; excess embryos created, frozen, and treated as if they were not human beings; embryos cloned, grafted with animal embryos, and experimented upon; embryos discarded because of a potential physical abnormality, eye color, or sex.”

Brecheen points out that the way in which clinics are practicing IVF—and their handling of embryos—carries “significant moral and ethical implications.”

“Clinics are not required to disclose the total number of embryos they create, how many they store indefinitely, or how many they destroy and for what reasons,” he writes. “Shockingly, clinics are not even required to disclose statistics on their application of genetic screening, which more than 70% of fertility clinics utilize for sex-selection.”

“Advancing technology raises further concerns that clinics will use genetic screening to choose the ‘best’ embryos based on traits like eye or hair color, complexion, or potential height,” he continues. “In the U.S., this technology is already used to select or discard embryos based on eye color.”

The congressman pressed the CDC to specifically address how many embryos are created each year through IVF, how many are destroyed every year, how many created through IVF are currently in storage, the average length of time an embryo created through IVF is kept in storage, and more.

“How many embryos are screened each year for sex-selection, genetic abnormalities, or physical attributes such as eye, skin, or hair color?” he asks. “How many embryos each year are destroyed after undergoing genetic screening?”

“Does the CDC maintain any moral or ethical concerns about the use of genetic screening to select embryos based on genetic abnormalities, sex, or physical attributes? Does the CDC maintain any moral or ethical concerns about the intentional creation and destruction of excess embryos during the process of IVF?”

Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life Action, told The Daily Signal that her organization is grateful to Brecheen for addressing the lack of regulations and accountability in the IVF industry.

“The loss of life and careless disregard of humanity needs to be addressed,” Hawkins said. “The billion-dollar industry of IVF needs to be monitored, given the life and death stakes and the potentially predatory nature of a business that promises a lot but usually does not deliver. It is time not only the CDC but Congress to take actions against the terrible habits of the IVF industry.”