Alabama Takes Action

( – Signaling strong Republican support for women in the state, Alabama’s legislative body enacted a new statute that Governor Kay Ivey promptly ratified into law and designed to shield in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics from legal challenges.

This rapid legislative action was a response to a recent Alabama Supreme Court verdict that temporarily halted IVF services by designating frozen embryos as children in terms of civil liability under the state’s wrongful death statute concerning minors.

Following the law’s signature Governor Ivey stated, “The overwhelming support of SB159 from the Alabama Legislature proves what we have been saying: Alabama works to foster a culture of life, and that certainly includes IVF.”

“I am pleased to sign this important, short-term measure into law so that couples in Alabama hoping and praying to be parents can grow their families through IVF,” he further added.

Efforts to harmonize legislative measures led to the quick passage of SB159 penned by Sen. Tim Melson (R-Florence), which the House approved with an 81-12 vote followed by the Senate’s near-unanimous support. Focused on granting immunity, the bill deliberately sidestepped the complex legal status of embryos under Alabama law.

Representative Terri Collins (R-Decatur) championed the bill to quickly reinstate IVF services while leaving the door open for future legislative examination. In response, the University of Alabama at Birmingham Health System announced plans to resume IVF services in light of the new law.

The legislative discourse revealed a split, with critics like Rep. Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa) expressing skepticism over the bill’s effectiveness in preventing potential litigation against IVF clinics.

Proposals from Democratic legislators sought explicit clarification that embryos outside the womb should not be legally considered children in an attempt to directly address the Supreme Court’s ruling.

The Alabama Supreme Court’s decision stemmed from lawsuits against the Mobile Infirmary Medical Center related to the destruction of several embryos in 2020, which caught the legislature off-guard and prompted this swift legislative intervention.

Advocates, including medical professionals and affected families, rallied at the State House to call for protections to ensure IVF services could continue.

While the bill garnered substantial support particularly among Republicans, it also faced opposition and abstention from both parties, which highlights the complex considerations surrounding IVF treatments and the legal status of embryos in Alabama.

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