Alabama House Attempts To Reverse Course on IVF Ruling Dogging GOP Lawmakers Across the Country

The Alabama House passed a measure that would grant doctors criminal and civil immunity for the potential destruction of embryos.

AP/Butch Dill
Elizabeth Goldman holds a photo of her daughter, Zari Grace, as she tells her story to Secretary of U.S. Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, who hosted a panel discussion with families directly affected by the Alabama Supreme Court Court decision Tuesday. AP/Butch Dill

Alabama is reversing course on in-vitro fertilization treatment, with the GOP controlled House voting to protect doctors from civil and criminal penalties just weeks after the state Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos are legally people.

Earlier in February, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled in an eight to one decision, in which Chief Justice Tom Parker invoked the “wrath of a holy God” that frozen embryos are considered children in the state of Alabama.

After the ruling, IVF clinics in the state began to pause treatments, citing the fact that in IVF procedures some embryos will have to be destroyed because they are found to not be viable and for other reasons.

The ruling from Alabama’s high court sparked immediate backlash around the country and resulted in political pressure on Republicans both in Alabama and around the country.

In response, the Alabama House is moving forward with a measure that would give doctors civil and criminal immunity for the death or injury of an embryo.

The case that resulted in the court’s ruling was a wrongful death suit brought against a clinic after embryos at the clinic were accidentally destroyed.

The state representative who co-sponsored the bill, Terri Collins, told Politico ahead of the vote that “My goal this week has been to try to find some compromise that would open our clinics for these families.”

“Do we need to have the longer discussion? Yes, we do,” Ms. Collins said.

Versions of the same bill were introduced in both the Alabama House and Senate in order to fasttrack the proposal to Governor Ivey’s desk, who says she supports the measure.

The measure was not without opposition within the state Republican Party. State Representative Ernie Yarbrough said that the bill would “grant immunity to murder.”

Republicans in the state also signaled that they plan to return to the topic in the coming weeks in order to come up with a more permanent solution to the issue. 

It’s not clear if the ad hoc and potentially temporary measure will be enough to assuage the concern of IVF providers in the state who have suspended treatment to couples having trouble conceiving children.

The New York Sun

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