Gov. Kay Ivey of Alabama Signs Legislation To Safeguard IVF After Court Decision

( – The Alabama Supreme Court shocked the country in February when it ruled that fertilized eggs are children. The decision upended in-vitro fertilization in the state. Now, the governor has signed a bill to protect the procedure.

On March 6, Alabama’s legislature passed Senate Bill 159 to protect IVF. It sailed through the Senate with a 29-1 vote and passed the House 81-10, with 12 abstentions. The bill was introduced and debated quickly after the public called on lawmakers to do something to protect the medical procedure.

The legislation was a direct result of the February 16th court ruling that expanded the definition of a child to include frozen embryos and allowed two wrongful death lawsuits to proceed against a fertility clinic. The families at the center of those cases sued under the state’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act after a person managed to enter a fertility clinic located at a hospital and accidentally destroy frozen embryos.

Half of the state’s IVF clinics closed in the immediate aftermath of the ruling. They cited concerns that patients and doctors could be charged criminally or made liable for practicing standard IVF procedures.

Governor Kay Ivey (R) issued a statement after signing Senate Bill 159, saying the state “works to foster a culture of life, and that certainly includes IVF.” She went on to say she was happy to sign the legislation and anticipates lawmakers will make more changes in the months ahead.

The legislature did not address the underlying fetal personhood issue at the center of the controversy. The Alabama Supreme Court’s decision will almost certainly be appealed at the federal level. The state is the first in the nation to grant personhood to frozen cells. Experts worry more states will follow and are concerned that could open fertility doctors and women up to criminal charges. However, many Republicans at the federal level have already expressed continued support for fertility specialists.

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