employees, Black employees, IVF

Alabama Moves To Reopen IVF Clinics With New Bill

The new law offers "civil and criminal immunity for death or damage to an embryo" to individuals and entities providing IVF services.

Alabama passed legislation on March 6 to safeguard in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures after a controversial state Supreme Court ruling categorizing embryos as children sparked backlash.

Republican Governor Kay Ivey promptly signed the bill moments after lawmakers passed it. “IVF is a complex issue…but right now, I am confident that this legislation will provide the assurances our IVF clinics need and will lead them to resume services immediately,” she stated, according to NBC News.

The GOP-controlled legislature’s rapid response addressed the confusion triggered by the ruling that had clinics temporarily halting IVF treatments over potential legal risks. The new law offers “civil and criminal immunity for death or damage to an embryo” to individuals and entities providing IVF services. As Dr. Janet Bouknight of Alabama Fertility explained, it “provides the protections that we need to start care — or resume care, really.”

However, the legislation sidesteps definitively clarifying whether frozen embryos have the same legal status as children under state law. The “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,” warned Barbara Collura, the president of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association.

Alabama Fertility and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) expect to resume with the passing of the new bill, NBC News reported. Dr. Warner Huh stated UAB would “promptly resume IVF treatments” thanks to the new protections but added, “We will continue to assess developments and advocate for protections for IVF patients and our providers.”

Both major clinics had paused IVF after the Feb. 16 ruling stoked concerns that routine practices like discarding embryos with genetic issues could expose providers to criminal repercussions. The suspension left around 40 patients at Alabama Fertility awaiting promised treatments during the suspension. As Bouknight noted, “because…embryos have genetic abnormalities or are no longer needed,” it’s common to discard some.