Chicago mother joins fight to further protect Illinois IVF law, especially after Alabama decision

ByCheryl Scott and Megan Hawkins WLS logo
Wednesday, March 13, 2024
Chicago mother joins fight to further protect Illinois IVF law
What is IVF? Some state lawmakers are pushing to further protect in vitro fertilization in Illinois, especially after an Alabama court decision.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Some state lawmakers are pushing to further protect in vitro fertilization in Illinois, especially after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryo, created through IVF, are considered children under state law.

The issue has raised concerns about reproductive rights nationwide.

One Chicago mother is speaking out about her choice to undergo IVF and her legal pursuit to protect reproductive rights for women across the state.

"I got married when I was 34, and started to try to have kids immediately after. It just wasn't happening," Stephanie Vojas Taylor said.

In 2019, Vojas Taylor and her husband, Ryan, were ready to start a family.

But her egg count was low.

After trying to conceive without success, she went to a fertility specialist, who suggested intrauterine insemination, or IUI.

The first round resulted in a pregnancy, but Vojas Taylor ultimately miscarried.

"Once I found out that I was going to have to have IVF, we did two more IUI cycles. We did not get pregnant on those, and at that point we decided it was time to move forward," Vojas Taylor said.

Turning to IVF meant weeks of blood draws, ultrasounds and hormone shots to stimulate egg growth.

Then, mature eggs were retrieved, fertilized with sperm in a lab, and monitored as they developed into embryos.

"With that second cycle, we were able to get a viable egg that turned into a viable embryo," Vojas Taylor said.

On May 12, 2020, she gave birth to her first son, Maxwell Robert Taylor, a healthy baby boy, weighing 8 pounds, 5 ounces.

"I remember just tears of joy streaming down my face. I was so incredibly happy because I was a mom finally," Vojas Taylor said.

In September of 2021, she gave birth to another baby boy.

This time, no fertility treatment was needed.

SEE MORE: Cheryl Scott's fertility journey, egg freezing let her take reproductive future into own hands

The Taylor family is now complete, thanks, in part, to IVF.

But Vojas Taylor is not stopping there.

She's a lawyer and lobbyist in Springfield, where she helped draft portions of the Illinois Reproductive Health Act.

"Illinois is actually the first state in the country that has a law in the books that protects IVF, that protects your decision for what you want to do with your embryos," Vojas Taylor said.

Gov. JB Pritzker signed that bill into law in 2019.

Last month, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that embryos, created through IVF, should be considered children under state law.

That ruling prompted Pritzker to recommit his stance on protecting reproductive rights in Illinois.

"For families who want to have children, we ought to be helping them access doctors and access the procedures that they need," Pritzker said.

Illinois' Reproductive Health Act declares that a fertilized egg, embryo or fetus does not have independent rights.

"People who live in other states who want to have children using IVF, come to Illinois. We're protecting your rights in so many ways, but specifically regarding IVF," Pritzker said.

Right now, some state lawmakers are pushing to further protect IVF in Illinois.

That includes expanded health insurance coverage, something Vojas Taylor is also fighting for in Springfield.

After Alabama's embryo ruling, that state's governor signed legislation to protect IVF providers from legal liability.