IVF Halted After Alabama Supreme Court Ruling

Some Alabama IVF providers have paused services in light of the state Supreme Court’s February 20 ruling that defined frozen embryos as children protected under the state’s Constitutional provision recognizing the rights of the unborn, the Associated Press reported.

Three IVF clinics – Alabama Fertility Services, The Center for Reproductive Medicine, and the University of Alabama Birmingham hospitals – in conjunction with Infirmary Health, a related hospital system, announced that they would pause IVF treatments.

The Alabama Supreme Court ruled that three Alabama couples whose embryos were destroyed in a storage mishap could pursue wrongful death civil action against the facility. In its opinion, the court ruled that frozen embryos were unborn children “without exception” regardless of “developmental stage” or “physical location.”

A spokesperson for Republican Attorney General Steve Marshall said in a statement following the court’s decision that the attorney general had no intention of criminally prosecuting either IVF providers or parents.

Republican Governor Kay Ivey said she was working with Republican state lawmakers to pass legislation that would protect IVF treatments in Alabama.

CBS News reported on February 26 that Alabama lawmakers had already begun working on legislation, with several proposals being prepared in both the state Senate and House, seeking to clarify that a frozen embryo would not be recognized as an unborn child under the state Constitution until it is implanted in the uterus.

The House bill overwhelmingly passed 94 to 6 on Thursday, February 29. Under the measure, introduced by state Republican Rep. Terri Collins, IVF providers would be given civil and criminal immunity.

The state Senate bill, introduced by Republican state Senator Tim Melson, a medical doctor, defines a frozen embryo as “potential life” rather than “human life” until it is implanted in the mother.

Melson’s legislation unanimously passed the state Senate later that same day.

Now, each bill will move to the other chamber for a vote.