IFLG Fighting to Protect IVF in the United States Senate Rich Vaughn

Fighting to Protect IVF in the United States Senate

Today, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)—Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP)—as well as U.S. Representative Susan Wild (D-PA-07), are introducing legislation to protect every American’s right to access in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and other assisted reproductive technology (ART) that millions of Americans need to have children, including Senator Duckworth who relied on IVF to have her two daughters. The Right to Build Families Act of 2022 would prohibit limiting access to IVF or any ART services to any American—regardless of their zip code.

“This is the part of the abortion debate that most Americans were not aware of until Roe v. Wade fell.” – Senator Tammy Duckworth (D – Illinois), upon introducing a bill to protect fertility treatments with Senator Patty Murray (D – Washington.)

When Roe v. Wade was overturned by the United States Supreme Court, it ended nationwide protection for a woman to choose an abortion, a right that had existed for nearly half a century. It would now be left to the states to decide if a woman would be allowed to have bodily autonomy or not, creating a patchwork of differing laws from state to state.

Anti-choice proponents immediately began advocating for a national ban on abortion. In a number of states, Republican lawmakers have proposed legislation that would restrict access to ART services. They also advanced their efforts to end IVF because of their belief that life begins at the moment of conception.

With the Supreme Court overturning Roe and some states enacting extreme abortion bans, many women have not only seen their constitutional right to abortion ripped away from them, but their ability to get treatment for cancer, lupus, and more—and to access IVF and other ART services in order to build a family—has also been jeopardized. The new patchwork of state abortion bans has created significant confusion among patients and providers alike about what services doctors can and cannot provide—including ART services—in states with the most restrictive laws. These threats have led IVF centers to call for new protections.

As we previously wrote, the challenge is about more than abortion rights. With Roe v. Wade overturned:

Many of the miraculous technological advances that today help millions of people suffering from infertility, as well as single and LGBTQ people, become parents could be banned. Even fertility preservation, the use of cryopreservation or freezing to preserve sperm, eggs, or reproductive organs in the event of disease, injury, or simply as a family-planning strategy, could become illegal if the right to abortion is overturned.

For example, IVF, a common treatment for infertility, typically results in the creation of multiple embryos. Typically, not all are used. The reproductive specialist, using advanced tools, selects the strongest, most vital embryos for implantation into the uterus of the intended mother or a surrogate. While once best practice would be to implant multiple embryos to increase the odds of a successful pregnancy, today better technology and higher success rates dictate that only a single embryo be implanted in most cases, preferable for the health of both the mother/surrogate and child.

But what happens to those unused embryos? Those deemed unviable are discarded. In some cases, intended parents opt to preserve via cryopreservation “extra” viable embryos for potential use at a future time. Years later, they may decide to use the embryos to have another child. Or they may not.

The principle of fetal viability now under attack at the Supreme Court is relevant in these kinds of fertility treatments. In banning abortion earlier and earlier in the pregnancy, the laws are protecting the rights of the fetus before the fetus would be able to survive outside a woman’s body—in some cases placing the rights of the fetus above the rights of the woman carrying the pregnancy. If the rights of a fetus are protected at six weeks, when it would not survive outside of the womb, why stop there? Why not protect those rights from the point of conception?


Some states already have gone there. Under Missouri’s “personhood” law, courts have ruled that unborn embryos are persons for the purposes of wrongful death claims, manslaughter and first-degree murder charges. Under Louisiana’s law, yet to be tested in court, unborn embryos are designated “juridical persons” and are prohibited from destruction, with rights to sue and be sued, with disputes to be resolved in the embryos’ “best interests.”

So far, with the constitutional protections of Roe and Casey intact, women’s rights to abortion have not been denied under state personhood laws. But if the conservative Court invalidates the fetal “viability” standard, Americans’ access to treatment for infertility and other reproductive services may hinge on when each state decides human life begins.


Anti-choice advocates in Ohio, Virginia, and Texas are currently examining legislation that would make IVF illegal. Given that most abortions are now banned in 13 states in the United States, in those states, the risk that IVF could be banned or severely restricted as well, is very, very real.

Senator Tammy Duckworth’s journey to parenthood took a decade. After she returned wounded from her service in Iraq, she spoke to her OB/GYN at her Veterans Affairs hospital about trying to have a child. She was referred to a fertility specialist and eventually used IVF to conceive her two daughters. During her journey, she had five fertilized eggs. Three were discarded because they were not viable, but that would “ now potentially [be] manslaughter in some of these states,” she said.

“I also have a fertilized egg[, an embryo,] that’s frozen,” Duckworth continued. “My husband and I haven’t decided what we will do with it, but the head of the Texas Right to Life organization that wrote the bounty law for Texas has come out and specifically said he’s going after IVF next, and he wants control of the embryos.”

The Right to Build Families Act of 2022 would:

- Prohibit limiting any individual from accessing ART services or retaining their reproductive genetic materials, including gametes;

- Protect healthcare providers who provide ART services or related counseling and information;

- Allow the Department of Justice to pursue civil action against states that violate the legislation; and

- Create a private right of action for individuals and healthcare providers in states that have limited access to ART services.

This legislation is endorsed by: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; American Humanist Association; American Society for Reproductive Medicine; Center for Reproductive Rights; HealthyWomen; National Council of Jewish Women; National Partnership for Women and Families; Physicians for Reproductive Health; and RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association.

As we look forward to 2023 and all the miraculous possibilities the coming year holds, if we can do nothing else, we must make sure that every American knows exactly how much all of us have to lose and how important it is to voice your support of this important legislation in every possible way.

Richard Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn is founder and principal of International Fertility Law Group, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms focused exclusively on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, sperm donation or egg donation. Rich is co-author of the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” American Bar Association Publishing, 2017.

Peiya Wang
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015, received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension, and obtained her second Master of Science degree in Legal Studies from Loyola Law School. Peiya relocated back to her hometown, Beijing, China in 2019 and works from IFLG’s Beijing office. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Luis Sosa

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University which he received in 2013, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. Luis has worked for IFLG in both Los Angeles as well as San Francisco, and is currently based in Dallas, Texas. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Toni Hughes

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”


Kim has over 30 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, most recently as a founder of and speaker at the first Cambridge University International Surrogacy Symposium held in June 2019, as immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, and as a popular presenter to law schools, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Sunny Chien

Sunny joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2017, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s international clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University of Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude. Sunny is bilingual in English and Mandarin and has extensive experience as a legal assistant and paralegal at Los Angeles-area law firms. She is excited to be part of the IFLG team. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, going to the beach, cooking, and being outdoors.

Los Angeles

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New York

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New York, NY 10017

Phone:  +1 844 400 2016

Email:  info@iflg.net

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Molly O'Brien

Fertility law attorney Molly O’Brien began working in the field of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in 2005, at an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency where she became familiar with all aspects of in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, Molly has drafted and negotiated surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation embryo donation agreements for hundreds of her clients all over the world.

Phoebe Sadler

Fertility law attorney Phoebe Sadler has a background in family law and has been practicing exclusively in the area of assisted reproduction technology (ART) law since 2018.

Rubina Aslanyan

Rubina has an extensive background in the legal field as a paralegal in Family Law and has worked in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 2012. Her area of focus is in managing and assisting clients with surrogacy, egg donation, and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s domestic and international clients. During her spare time, Rubina enjoys spending time with her family and dog Bella, traveling and cooking.

Alexander Espinoza
Legal Assistant

Alexander joined IFLG as a legal assistant in 2019, where he manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases. Alex is bilingual in English and Spanish and has been in the legal field for 23 years. Alex is excited to join the IFLG team and pursuing his will to help others in the reproductive law process. In his spare time he loves spending time with his family and friends, being outdoors, road trips, loves music and dancing.

Cara Stecker
Senior Paralegal

After receiving her paralegal certificate in 2005, Cara began working in assisted reproductive law. During the fifteen years Cara has worked in this field, she has gained a wide range of experience and knowledge that she uses to help better assist clients and those involved in the assisted reproductive journey. Cara’s primary roles involve managing parental establishment matters and coordination with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorney network, drafting contracts and parental establishment court documents and providing support to other team members. Cara finds great joy in being a small part of a team of caring people who help others achieve their dream of having a family. In her spare time, Cara enjoys spending time with her husband and three children, watching her children play the sports they love, and she enjoys, running, cycling and exploring the outdoors in the sun.

Stephanie Kimble

Stephanie received her BS in History and Political Thought from Concordia University Irvine in 2015 and her Paralegal Certificate from University of San Diego later that same year. She has been working as a Paralegal since 2016 in Family and Reproductive Law. She is excited to be part of International Fertility Law Group working on managing Surrogacy, Egg donation and Parental Establishment Cases.

Trish Pittman
Assistant Financial Coordinator

With more than 20 years of experience in the field of accounting, Trish joined the IFLG team in 2019 as Assistant Financial Coordinator. Her client-facing focus at IFLG is to assist with all client trust accounting. Trish is the mother of two daughters and enjoys spending time teaching and learning new things from them. In her free time, she loves long walks in the park and reading suspense and mystery novels.

Katie Deaquino
Senior Paralegal

Katie is a Senior Paralegal with IFLG and has dedicated over sixteen years to the areas of surrogacy and reproductive law. She received her Paralegal Certificate from Coastline Community College and has worked with some of the top law firms in the assisted reproduction community. Katie is also a commissioned Notary Public. With IFLG, Katie manages Surrogacy, Egg Donation, and Parental Establishment cases and provides support to other IFLG team members. Katie truly enjoys helping others build their families through assisted reproduction and is thankful she has had the rewarding experience of assisting IFLG clients. Katie often spends her free time with her Husband, four young children and her bulldog “Bella”.

Elsa Jimenez
Legal Assistant

Elsa joined IFLG as a Legal Assistant in 2019, bringing more than 35 years of experience working in the legal profession (concentrating in tort and litigation matters). At IFLG she assists surrogates with their surrogacy and parental matters. The oldest of five siblings, born and raised in East Los Angeles to Mexican immigrant parents, Elsa loves “seeing the beauty of families forming” through assisted reproductive technology. She and her husband Carlos have four children and one grandson. Elsa enjoys jazz and ’80s music, being outdoors in nature, collecting teacups and tea pots, and spending time with her close-knit family.