Alabama fast-tracks law to protect IVF

Alabama fast-tracks law to protect IVF

Alabama lawmakers have passed legislation under urgency to protect medical providers offering in vitro fertilisation services after coming under mounting pressure to restore fertility services.

The Alabama legislature passed the bill on Thursday one day after it was introduced by 94 to 6, following a state supreme court ruling earlier in February that forced hospitals and clinics to halt treatments when it classified frozen embryos as legally protected children.

“This would at least keep the clinics open and the families moving forward,” said Terri Collins, the Republican House member who sponsored the bill.

It will now go before the Alabama State Senate for a vote.

A shock ruling from the Alabama Supreme Court in mid-February that three couples who had frozen embryos destroyed in an accident at a storage facility could pursue wrongful death lawsuits left it unclear how IVF providers could legally store, transport and use embryos.

Within days, almost every fertility clinic in the state had paused IVF treatment and the disposal of embryos.

Hundreds of women rally outside the Alabama State House on Wednesday in support of legislation to protect IVF treatment (AP)
Hundreds of women rally outside the Alabama State House on Wednesday in support of legislation to protect IVF treatment (AP)

On Wednesday, hundreds of IVF patients poured into the State House in Montgomery to pressure lawmakers to find a workable solution.

One woman told House committee members that she had been through eight miscarriages, one ectopic pregnancy and multiple surgeries in six years before turning to surrogacy.

LeeLee Ray said she and her husband found a surrogate in Colorado, but now they couldn’t have the embryos transferred out of state due to the Supreme Court ruling.

“And if we do not have them there within two to three weeks, we lose the match, and we lose an additional $260,000,” Ms Ray said, according to WVTM13.

The bill provides legal protections for IVF goods and services “except acts of omission that are intentional and not arising from or related to IVF services”. It would apply retroactively and automatically repeal in June 2025.

The bill does not address the Supreme Court’s ruling that defined frozen embryos as children.

Republicans, who hold a supermajority in both the Alabama House and Senate, did not take up a Democratic proposal that defined a human embryo outside of a uterus as “not considered an unborn child or human being for any purpose under state law.”

During a heated floor debate, Democratic lawmaker Barbara Drummond said that the state had spent too much time interfering with women’s bodies.

“I am so tired of folks telling me as a female in Alabama what I’m going to do with my own body. It’s time that we stop this,” Ms Drummond said, according to the Associated Press.