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Newt Gingrich

Former House Speaker; Chairman of Gingrich 360

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White rhino IVF pregnancy breakthrough could save species

Mar 27

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In February 2024, a controversial ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court prompted some health care providers in the state to halt their in vitro fertilization (IVF) programs, sparking division among Republicans. The Republican-led Alabama Legislature quickly worked to address the issue and protect IVF, resulting in the Republican governor signing a bill into law protecting IVF.

Straight Arrow News contributor Newt Gingrich explores IVF from a different angle, focusing on its application in conservation efforts for the white rhinoceros in Africa. Gingrich describes using IVF to save the species as a “remarkable solution to a genuine challenge.”

White rhinoceroses, who are beautiful and huge animals, are two different groups: the northern and the southern. The southern group has been doing all right. The northern group is on the verge of literally dying out. And what happened was with the last few that were left, doctors were able to move in using in vitro fertilization and take the eggs from the female white rhino and a sperm from the male white rhino and have in vitro fertilization, and then plant them in the much more common southern rhinoceros. The result is, for the first time ever, they were able to produce a baby rhinoceros using this approach, and may be able to save the northern species from going extinct.

It’s a remarkable use of science. [For] those of us who believe in conservation, who love nature, and who believe that large species deserve extra effort so that our children and grandchildren can also experience sort of the magic and the whole sense of romance of nature — this is an important breakthrough. It’s one that I suspect can be applied in a number of other places. And it’s just ironic that breakthroughs in science sometimes can lead to amazing outcomes you would never have predicted and to a better future for all of us, including, in this case, a better future for rhinoceroses.

In Vitro Fertilization has been in the news recently for two very different reasons. One is political. The Alabama Supreme Court had made a ruling that embryos created by in vitro fertilization could not in any way be destroyed, and an effect would have closed down. In Vitro Fertilization. Totally. The reaction was immediate and overwhelming. President Trump came out in favor of a law the Alabama legislature passed a law that legalized in vitro fertilization, which can be very, very important for families who are having difficult time getting pregnant, and who need help in producing enough eggs to get the be fertilized, to get to be able to be pregnant. So it’s a very human issue. With a totally different front, on a different continent in Africa, in vitro fertilization has come up as a remarkable answer to a real challenge. White rhinoceroses who are beautiful and huge animals are two different groups, the northern and southern, the southern group is been doing all right, the northern group is on the verge of literally dying out. And what happened was with the last few that were left, doctors were able to move in using in vitro fertilization and take the eggs from the female, white rhino, and a sperm from the male White Rhino, and have in vitro fertilization, and then plant them and the much more common southern rhinoceros. The result is, for the first time ever, they were able to produce a baby rhinoceros using this approach, and may be able to save the northern species from going extinct. It’s a remarkable use of science. Those of us who believe in conservation, who love nature, and who believe that large species deserve extra effort, so that our children and grandchildren can also experience sort of the magic and the whole sense of romance of nature. This is an important breakthrough. It’s one that I suspect can be applied in a number of other places. And it’s not just ironic that breakthroughs in science sometimes can lead to amazing outcomes you would never have predicted and to a better future for all of us, including, in this case, a better future for rhinoceroses.

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