Alabama legislation to protect IVF providers moves towards final approval

Measure would protect providers from lawsuits and criminal prosecution for 'damage or death of an embryo'

Pro-IVF rights protesters outside the Alabama State House in Montgomery on February 28. AP
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Alabama state politicians eager to protect in vitro fertilisation services began final debate on Wednesday on legislation shielding providers from the fallout of a court ruling that equated frozen embryos to children.

The measure would protect providers from lawsuits and criminal prosecution for the “damage or death of an embryo” during IVF services.

The state House of Representatives voted 81-12 for the bill that now returns to the Alabama Senate.

Politicians have fast-tracked the immunity legislation as a proposed solution to get clinics open while they consider whether more action is needed.

If the legislation passes, it will go to Governor Kay Ivey to be signed into law, possibly on the same evening.

Three of the state’s limited pool of IVF providers immediately paused some services after the court ruling, sending some families out of state to access treatment and raising concerns that costs for fertility services would soar.

The clinic at the centre of that case has stopped services and told CNN the new legislation falls short of providing the legal protection it needs to resume care.

And experts say it is going to take more work to protect fertility services in the state.

The immunity proposal was pushed as a way to address clinics' immediate concerns and get them open but they did not take up any legislation that would address the legal status of embryos.

The court ruled that three couples whose frozen embryos were destroyed when a hospital patient got into the storage unit at a fertility clinic and dropped the embryos could pursue wrongful death lawsuits for their “extra-uterine children”.

The ruling, treating an embryo the same as a child or gestating foetus under the wrongful death statute, raised concerns about civil liabilities for clinics.

A fourth couple filed a similar wrongful death lawsuit last week.

Updated: March 06, 2024, 11:59 PM