Alabama lawmakers put forward bills to protect IVF medical providers after Supreme Court ruling

Twin bills in Alabama’s state Senate and House introduced on Tuesday would shield IVF providers from prosecution

Bevan Hurley
Wednesday 28 February 2024 17:24 GMT
Alabama couple who spent $50,000 on IVF speak out on controversial pause

Alabama lawmakers introduced two bills on Tuesday that would shield medical providers that offer in vitro fertilisation services from civil and criminal liability.

The state Senate and House put forward the proposed bills nearly two weeks after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos are legally protected children, forcing hospitals and clinics to halt treatments.

Senate Bill 159, introduced by Republican state senator Tim Melson, would provide “civil and criminal immunity provided for in vitro fertilization goods and services in certain circumstances”, according to the document’s text.

Later on Tuesday, Republican representatives introduced House Bill 237 that would provide the same legal protections for IVF goods and services “except acts of omission that are intentional and not arising from or related to IVF services”.

Neither bill addressed the Supreme Court’s ruling that defined frozen embryos as children.

SB 159 would apply retroactively and automatically be repealed in April 2025. The house bill would repeal in June 2025.

The shock 16 February ruling from Alabama Supreme Court left it unclear how IVF providers could legally store, transport and use embryos.

A recent Alabama Supreme Court ruling that frozen embryos are legally protected children has plunged IVF treatment in the state into chaos (AP)

The ruling came from a 2020 case where a patient destroyed embryos at an IVF clinic, and echoed the views of some Christian fundamentalists and anti-abortion activists who believe that life begins at conception.

Democrats last week introduced House Bill 225 that would make “any fertilised human egg or human embryo that exists outside of a human uterus is not considered an unborn child or human being”.

Families undergoing IVF treatment in Alabama said the ruling had upended their lives. Some are vowing to leave the state in order to order to continue receiving infertility treatment.

On Tuesday, Health and Human Secretary Xavier Becerra travelled to Birmingham to meet with medical professionals and families who had been impacted by the ruling.

In a statement, he linked the decision to the Supreme Court’s decision to remove constitutional protections for women seeking abortion care in 2022.

“It's gone from taking away a woman’s right to choose — to stopping couples desperately trying to have children through fertility treatments — and threatening them and their doctors with criminal penalties,” Secretary Becerra wrote on X.

“The cruelty taking place is unfathomable.”

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