GOP Sen. Rob Portman Backs Gay Adoption, Silent on Fate of IVF Human Embryos

By Michael W. Chapman | September 5, 2013 | 3:15pm EDT

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio). (AP)

( – Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman, who has a strong pro-life record and supports same-sex marriage, said it is okay for gay couples to adopt children, but he would not say what should be done with the “spare” human embryos usually created through in vitro fertilization, a process by which some gay couples obtain children.

Portman, who had opposed homosexual “marriage” in the past, announced in March that he had changed his position because his college-age son, Will, told him he was gay. “One way to look at it is that gay couples’ desire to marry doesn’t amount to a threat but rather a tribute to marriage, and a potential source of renewed strength for the institution,” said Sen. Portman in a Mar. 15 commentary.

Along with marriage for many couples comes the subject of children -- and many same-sex couples who “marry” obtain children through adoption or medical procedures, including artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization (IVF) with a surrogate mother.

Elton John and his gay partner David Furnish, for example, created two children using a paid surrogate offered through the Center for Surrogate Parenting in Encino, California.

Given Senator Portman’s strong pro-life record – he has a 100% pro-life scorecard from the National Right to Life Committee – asked the senator whether he 1) supports adoption of children by homosexual couples; 2) whether two gay males should be allowed to acquire children through IVF; and 3) what should be done with the excess or spare embryos usually created in the IVF process.

In vitro fertilization under the microscope. (AP)

Should those embryos, for instance, be frozen, experimented upon, or discarded?

In an Aug. 9 e-mail to, Portman’s communications director, Jeff Sadosky, responded, in part, stating, “[I]n the short term, here is what I can get you from Rob … ‘Adoption and family law are state and local issues. I think married gay couples and married straight couples should be able to adopt on equal terms.’”

No answer concerning IVF and the fate of spare human embryos was provided from Senator Portman’s office. Subsequent e-mails from on Aug. 14 and Sept. 4 seeking responses on the IVF and human embryo questions also were not answered by Portman’s office.

The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) condemns the use of IVF. As it states in its “Resolution on In Vitro Fertilization,” the NRLC says “human life at every stage of biological development is deserving of respect and protection … it is documented that IVF programs include the objectionable practices of discarding, freezing, and/or experimenting upon human embryos … by its very nature IVF exposes the embryo to extraordinary risks, hazards, and rigors beyond its capacities for survival, as evidenced by the high rate of IVF embryo mortalities … IVF often involves continuous monitoring and testing before and after transfer of the developing embryo, thereby increasing the possibility of increased eugenic abortions, either mandated or encouraged … BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the National Right to Life Committee condemns current IVF procedures and urges a halt to these practices.”

Pop-star Elton John, his gay partner David Furnish, and their surrogate-created son Zachary. (AP)

With IVF – outside of body fertilization – a female egg is fertilized by a man’s sperm in a laboratory (“test tube baby”). Usually, a number of eggs, sometimes 10, from the female donor are fertilized this way. Once this successfully occurs, human embryos (zygotes) are created. Several of those human embryos (usually two) are then inserted into a surrogate mother’s womb and, if implantation on the uterine wall happens, the embryo(s) will continue developing into a baby over 9 months.

If the prospective “parent” wants only one child, any “spare” embryos are removed (aborted).  In addition, if there are any other embryos from the fertilization process still left over in the laboratory, they can be frozen, used for research, or even discarded.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. (AP)

A 2012 report by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority in Britain revealed, that for that country, 1.7 million embryos created for IVF had been thrown away since 1991. It further showed that while 3.5 million human embryos had been created in the lab, they produced only 235,480 “gestational sacs,” or evidence of successful implantation,” reported The Telegraph.

In addition, among the embryos made, nearly 840,000 were put into storage and almost 5,900 were used for scientific research.  “Nearly 1.7 million were discarded unused and a further 23,480 were discarded after being taken out of storage,” the Telegraph reported.

Former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has two grandsons that were conceived through IVF. In a 2005 interview on Fox News Sunday, Romney said of IVF in general that if there were “a leftover embryo or two,” the couple “should be able to decide whether to preserve that embryo for future use or to destroy it.”

MRC Store