Health News

Alabama passes bill to resume IVF services after court ruling

Alabama lawmakers have approved a bill that would protect in vitro fertilization (IVF) providers and patients from legal consequences after a court ruling that recognized frozen embryos as children. The bill, which was passed with overwhelming support in both chambers of the legislature, aims to restore IVF services in the state that were halted by the ruling.

Court ruling sparks outcry from IVF community

The bill was prompted by a decision from the Alabama Supreme Court on Feb. 16, 2024, that granted personhood rights to human embryos existing outside of a womb. The ruling was made in a case involving a divorced couple who disagreed over the fate of their frozen embryos. The court sided with the husband, who wanted to preserve the embryos, and ruled that they were entitled to the same rights and protections as children.

The ruling had a chilling effect on the IVF industry in Alabama, as three of the state’s major IVF providers suspended their services out of fear of prosecution and liability. The IVF community, including doctors, patients, and advocates, expressed outrage and frustration over the ruling, which they said violated their reproductive rights and medical autonomy. Hundreds of people rallied at the state capitol on Feb. 28, 2024, to demand legislative action to protect IVF services.

Alabama passes bill to resume IVF services after court ruling

Bill provides immunity to IVF providers and patients

In response to the public pressure, lawmakers from both parties fast-tracked a bill that would shield IVF providers and patients from civil and criminal lawsuits and charges for the “damage or death of an embryo” during the IVF process. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, also clarified that embryos are not persons under Alabama law and that IVF services are not subject to the state’s abortion laws.

The bill received overwhelming support in both chambers of the legislature, passing the House 81-12 and the Senate 29-1 on March 6, 2024. The bill now heads to Gov. Kay Ivey, who is expected to sign it into law. Lawmakers said the bill was a necessary and urgent measure to restore IVF services in the state and to protect the rights of thousands of families who rely on them.

Bill hailed as a victory for IVF rights

The passage of the bill was welcomed by the IVF community, who praised the lawmakers for their swift and bipartisan action. Dr. Michael Allemand of Alabama Fertility, one of the clinics that paused services, said he was relieved and grateful that the bill was passed. He said he was looking forward to resuming his work and helping his patients achieve their dreams of parenthood.

Ashley Stork, an IVF patient who had her last embryo transfer right before the court ruling, said she was overjoyed that the bill was passed. She said she hoped that her cycle would work and that she would not have to face any legal obstacles in the future. She also expressed solidarity with other IVF patients who had been affected by the ruling and urged them to keep fighting for their rights.

The bill was also applauded by national and international organizations that advocate for reproductive health and justice. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the International Federation of Fertility Societies, and the Center for Reproductive Rights issued statements commending the Alabama legislature for passing the bill and protecting IVF rights. They also called on other states and countries to follow suit and ensure that IVF services are accessible and safe for all.


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