Alabama Legislature Votes To Protect IVF After State Supreme Court Chaos

The state's high court categorized frozen embryos as "children" in an opinion laden with religious verbiage earlier this month.

Alabama’s legislature voted Thursday to protect in vitro fertilization after the state Supreme Court set off alarm around the country with a decision categorizing frozen embryos as “children.”

The bills shield in vitro fertilization providers from lawsuits and criminal prosecutions, paving the way for fertility clinics that paused IVF services to resume them.

“This would at least keep the clinics open and the families moving forward,” Alabama state Rep. Terri Collins (R) told The Associated Press.

Lawmakers hope the measures will be fully approved next week. Some of them signaled a desire to pass additional restrictions in the future regarding what happens to embryos that are not successfully implanted.

Republicans, who make up a large majority in both chambers of the Alabama legislature, have been scrambling to control the damage from the wildly unpopular Feb. 16 court decision. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have turned to IVF to help them have children and plan their families.

The process involves creating fertilized embryos in a lab setting and freezing them for future use, but not all of the embryos end up implanted. Some are used for research, and some are destroyed. Classifying them as living children under the law would create legal problems that would likely end up shutting down IVF services.

Several fertility clinics in Alabama stopped offering IVF earlier this month, sparking panic and heartache for people desperately wanting to be parents.

Among elected Republicans, however, there has been an alarming lack of consensus around IVF, even as party leaders like former President Donald Trump try to rally support for it.

Trump directly called on Alabama lawmakers to take action last week, stating that “the Republican Party will always support the creation of strong, thriving, healthy American families.”

Others have faltered when asked for their stance. Earlier this week, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) acknowledged that “no one has IVF to destroy life, they have IVF to create life.”

He went on: “Unfortunately, you have to create multiple embryos, and some of those are not used, then you’re now in a quandary.”

A bill to protect IVF access on the federal level introduced by Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) was blocked by Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) on Wednesday.

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