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Alabama Governor Signs IVF Immunity Law

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Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed legislation that will protect in vitro fertilization service providers from criminal liability in a session that carried into late Wednesday night.

The bill was approved by the state House on Wednesday afternoon and signed into law within an hour of passing in the Alabama Senate later that evening.

The new law was created in response to the Alabama Supreme Court’s ruling that frozen embryos are considered children at any developmental stage or location.

The decision was issued after three couples brought wrongful death cases against a fertility clinic that destroyed their frozen embryos in an accident.

The ruling that “extrauterine children” were covered under Alabama’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act brought IVF services in the state to an abrupt halt, with providers concerned about legal issues that could arise from damaging or destroying embryos during storage, shipment, or implantation.

Clinics were also left fearful over the potential criminal charges that could come from the standard practice of discarding unviable or extra embryos.

According to NPR, quickly restarting the state’s fertility services was prioritized over defining personhood or determining the point that life actually begins.

“A lot of people say conception, a lot of people say implantation, a lot of people say heartbeat,” Republican Senator Tim Melson, the legislation’s sponsor, commented. “I wish I had an answer.”

For now, the law has accomplished the short-term goal of restarting fertility treatments by giving providers immunity retroactively and going forward.

“No action, suit, or criminal prosecution for the damage to or death of an embryo shall be brought or maintained against any individual or entity when providing or receiving services related to in vitro fertilization,” the legislation states.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham, which is one of the state’s most prominent IVF providers, acknowledged that they were restarting treatments in a statement released immediately after Ivey approved the bill.

“The overwhelming support of SB159 from the Alabama Legislature proves what we have been saying: Alabama works to foster a culture of life, and that certainly includes IVF,” Ivey remarked after signing the new legislation.

“I am pleased to sign this important, short-term measure into law so that couples in Alabama hoping and praying to be parents can grow their families through IVF.”

“I’m just elated to get these ladies back on schedule,” Sen. Melson commented.

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