Lawmakers Scramble For Solutions After Alabama IVF Ruling

Lawmakers in the Alabama House and Senate last Thursday overwhelmingly passed bills to protect IVF providers following the recent state Supreme Court decision ruling that frozen embryos could be considered unborn children under the state Constitution, CBS News reported.

The Alabama Supreme Court ruled on February 20 that three couples whose frozen embryos were destroyed following a storage mishap at an IVF facility could sue for wrongful death. The court determined that fertilized eggs were unborn children, regardless of “physical location” or “developmental stage” and therefore were protected under the Alabama Constitutional provision recognizing the rights of unborn children.

Lawmakers from both the House and Senate passed separate bills seeking to address the issue.

Legislation introduced in the state House by Republican state Rep. Terri Collins would retroactively grant criminal and civil immunity to IVF providers. The legislation, HB 237, was overwhelmingly approved 94 to 6.

Rep. Collins said the legislation would help the state achieve the goal of continuing the process for Alabama families who want to have children through IVF.

Republican state Rep. Ernie Yarbrough, who opposed the bill, described the destruction of frozen embryos as a “silent holocaust.”

The Senate bill, SB 159, introduced by Republican state Senator Tim Melson – a medical doctor – is similar to the state House bill and passed the Senate in a unanimous vote.

Senator Melson said the legislation would help families whose IVF treatment was paused after several providers suspended services in the wake of the state Supreme Court decision.

Each bill will head to the other chamber for a vote.

Alabama’s Republican Governor Kay Ivey had said in late February that she would work with state lawmakers to ensure legislation was passed to protect IVF treatment in the state. Ivey said Alabama worked “to foster a culture of life,” which included in vitro fertilization.

Governor Ivey is expected to sign the final legislation once it has passed both chambers.