Alabama Governor Signs Bill That Shields IVF Providers From Legal Liability

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
March 7, 2024US News
Alabama Governor Signs Bill That Shields IVF Providers From Legal Liability
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey announces a statewide stay-at-home order on April 3, 2020. (Office of the Governor of Alabama)

Alabama’s governor on March 6 signed legislation that protects people who provide in vitro fertilization (IVF) services after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that in vitro embryos are children.

“No action, suit, or criminal prosecution for the damage to or death of an embryo shall be brought or maintained against any individual or entity when providing or receiving services related to in vitro fertilization,” the bill states.

In a February ruling, the state’s top court said that because in vitro embryos are children, they are covered by a wrongful death law.

The Alabama Supreme Court has previously held that unborn children are children, and justices said that determination “applies to all unborn children, regardless of their location.”

The Wrongful Death of a Minor Act, the law in question, enables parents of minor children to sue people for “any wrongful act, omission, or negligence” that caused the children’s death.

Some Alabama clinics stopped providing IVF services after the ruling, even though the Alabama Attorney General’s office said it did not intend to prosecute IVF providers, prompting the Republican-dominated legislature to craft and pass the law shielding providers from liability.

The state House passed the bill in a 94-6 vote, and state senators voted 34-0 in favor.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, said that the bill was a temporary solution.

“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,” Ms. Ivey said in a statement.

She added, “IVF is a complex issue, no doubt, and I anticipate there will be more work to come, but right now, I am confident that this legislation will provide the assurances our IVF clinics need and will lead them to resume services immediately.”

The law, which took effect immediately, applies retroactively to “any act, omission, or course of services which are not the subject of litigation on the effective date of this act.”

Two of the clinics that halted IVF services said they would be resuming their work in light of the law.

The bill “provides some protections and will therefore allow UAB to restart in vitro fertilization treatments,” Dr. Warner Huh, chair of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, said in a video statement.

Doctors with Alabama Fertility also told news outlets that the legislation would lead to treatments resuming this week.

A third clinic, The Center for Reproductive Medicine at Mobile Infirmary, which is a defendant in the case on which the state Supreme Court ruled, said it would not be reopening its IVF clinic “until we have legal clarification on the extent of immunity provided by the new Alabama law.”

The law does not address whether in vitro embryos are children. That means the legislation still puts IVF providers and their patients “at legal risk,” according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

Some groups, including Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, had called on Ms. Ivey not to sign the bill, saying the legislation “would slam the door on any protections for the most vulnerable Alabamians, prevent families from seeking justice for the death or harm caused to their children, and leave a trail of destructive, immoral implications in its wake.”

IVF is typically used when women struggle with infertility. It involves collecting eggs from the ovaries and fertilizing them with sperm in a laboratory. The fertilized eggs, or embryos, are then placed in a uterus.

In 2021 in Alabama, there were 1,219 IVF procedures carried out across five clinics, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That same year in Alabama, there were 527 pregnancies through IVF and 437 infants born.

From The Epoch Times

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