LUTZ, FLORIDA, February 1, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In what appears to be a first in presidential politics, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich suggested Sunday that the federal government should develop ethical guidelines for in vitro fertilization.

“I believe life begins at conception,” he said.  “I would favor a commission to look seriously at the ethics of how we manage fertility clinics.”

Standing outside Exciting Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Florida, he said regulations were necessary, because the clinics are “creating life.”

Jim Sedlak, the vice president of American Life League told LifeSiteNews.com he was “very happy” that the issue is coming to light. “We’ve held protests for years outside IVF clinics to try to raise the issue. It is not an issue that the mainstream media wants to cover at all,” he said.

IVF often involves the creation of far more embryos than will be carried to term. The remaining embryos are frozen and could be discarded or used in stem cell research.

“We are opposed to in vitro fertilization, because the process creates human beings and kills them,” Sedlak said. IVF results in “treating human beings as commodities rather than the human beings that they are.”

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Gingrich’s comments came as he restated his opposition to using the nation’s approximately 400,000 abandoned IVF embryos for research.

This represents a shift for the politician who once supported embryonic stem cell research and encouraged President George W. Bush to provide federal funding. In 2001, Gingrich said, “For many of us, there’s a very, very real distinction between doing something with an unborn child, a fetus that is implanted, and doing something with cells in a fertility clinic that are otherwise going to be destroyed.” Gringrich has since converted to Roman Catholicism; Catholic teaching is clear in its opposition to IVF and embryo research.

Although Gingrich did not specify any particular regulations, Natural Cycle IVF artificially fertilizes and implants only one egg, thus removing the dilemma of multiple fertilizations.

However, Sedlak points out that Roman Catholic teaching rejects the process of in vitro fertilization under any circumstances, because it separates the unitive and procreative aspects of intimacy, and because there are other ethical concerns.

“Most of these IVF facilities have research labs where they experiment on the human beings,” he said. “There’s all kind of anti-life activities going on there in the IVF centers and their associated corporations.”

IVF is often a method for sex-selection, which, with sex-selective abortion, creates an unnatural imbalance between the sexes. A 2003 study also showed an increase in ectopic pregnancy in women who had an IVF birth. The prevalence of abandoned unborn has also led to an international “human egg trade.”

Because of these concerns and others, Pope Benedict XVI personally appealed to the leadership of Costa Rica in 2010 not to “violate the rights of the unborn with laws that legitimize in vitro fertilization or abortion.”