Alabama law protecting IVF brought both relief and concern: ‘There’s more work to be done’

Alabama’s swift passage of a law Wednesday night shielding in vitro fertilization providers from liability was greeted with relief — and some concern — as treatments were expected to resume Thursday following last month’s shocking Supreme Court decision that equated frozen embryos were with children. the discontinuation of many IVF services.

After the new law was passed Reproductive rights advocates called for greater efforts to protect reproductive health.

Under the new law signed into law Wednesday night by Alabama Republicans Governor Kay Ivey, IVF providers are now protected from civil lawsuits and criminal prosecution in the event of “embryo damage or death” during treatment.

Republican lawmakers in Alabama introduced the bill so IVF providers could resume services. However, they have refused to consider bills that would weigh in on the legal status of embryos.

Barbara Collura, president of Solution: The National Infertility Associationsaid the organization was relieved that Alabama clinics could resume their IVF programs, but said the law did not go far enough.

“While we are grateful for the actions of Alabama lawmakers, this legislation does not address the underlying issue of the status of embryos as part of the IVF process – threatening the long-term standard of care for IVF patients” , Collura said in a statement. . “There is still more work to be done.”

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine expressed similar sentiments, with a spokesperson noting that the law does not solve the main problem — that the court’s decision “confuses fertilized eggs with children.”

Karla Torres, a senior attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, had raised concerns about the bill, reportedly saying it “falls far short of what Alabamians want and need to access fertility care in their state without fear.” ”.

“Even on its face, this bill attempts to grant personhood to embryos, reinforcing the state Supreme Court’s extreme ruling recognizing embryos as children,” NBC News reported. Torres quoted.

The Alabama law came in response to a state Supreme Court ruling that allowed three couples whose frozen embryos were destroyed in an accident at a storage facility to file wrongful death lawsuits. The state’s three main IVF providers suspended these treatments following this ruling; Patients said their planned embryo transfers were canceled, jeopardizing their chances of parenthood.

Some providers say they are resuming services, but concerns remain.

Dr. Warner Huh, chairman of the University of Alabama Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, said, “UAB appreciates the Alabama Legislature and Governor Ivey for quickly passing and signing legislation that provides some protection and will therefore allow UAB to restart in vitro fertilization treatments. , also known as IVF,” according to CNN.

“While UAB works to immediately resume IVF treatments, we will continue to assess developments and advocate for protections for IVF patients and our healthcare providers.”

Another IVF provider, Alabama Fertility Specialists, welcomed the development.

“A solution – after 19 days of uncertainty and 14 days of missed opportunities for our patients. We are grateful to Senator (Tim) Melson and Representative (Terri) Collins for understanding the importance of immediate access to IVF and for finding a solution to a complex problem,” the clinic said. said on Facebook.

The post continued: “To our patients – you are our heroes. We wouldn’t be where we are today without you standing up, telling your stories and letting the world know how important IVF treatments are to families in our state. What’s next? Transfers and IVF start this week and more pregnancies and more babies in Alabama. Let’s get started!”

The Center for Reproductive Medicine of the Mobile Infirmary, a defendant in the Supreme Court ruling, will not immediately resume IVF treatments. “As we understand the language of the proposed law as it stands, we will not reopen our IVF facility until we have legal clarification on the scope of immunity provided by the new law in Alabama,” CNN said. quoted as the clinic says.

“At this time, we believe the law falls short in addressing the fertilized eggs currently being stored in the state and presents challenges for physicians and fertility clinics trying to help deserving families have children of their own.”

Although IVF services are set to resume, the court’s ruling could have striking political implications during an election cycle where reproductive rights are already a key issue. Amid the fallout, Trump reportedly called on state legislatures to act, saying, “I strongly support the availability of IVF for couples trying to have a precious baby.”

After the court ruling, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, said: “Abortion and IVF will be on the ballot in November.” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre noted: “IVF is under attack,” according to Reuters.

Although conservatives in Alabama advanced the proposal to protect IVF and ultimately greenlighted the legislation, it was a Republican-controlled court that had jeopardized the widely supported treatment in the first place.

One patient affected by the IVF ruling, Birmingham, Alabama, resident Latorya Beasley, will be among the First Lady Guests of Jill Biden during Joe Biden’s State of the Union address Thursday evening.

Beasley and her husband had their first child in 2022, via IVF. They tried to have another child through IVF, but Beasley’s embryo transfer was suddenly canceled due to the Alabama court ruling.