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More Alabama IVF Providers Pause Treatment Following Court Ruling

In the wake of a state Supreme Court ruling that said frozen embryos could be considered children under Alabama state law, more in vitro fertilization providers in Alabama paused services Thursday, causing patients to make other plans the Associated Press reports. Doctors and patients have been trying to determine what they can and can’t do after the ruling by the all-Republican Alabama Supreme Court. Three clinics -- the University of Alabama at Birmingham system, Alabama Fertility Services and The Center for Reproductive Medicine, in conjunction with a related hospital system Infirmary Health, announced a pause on IVF treatments -- while the Fertility Institute of North Alabama assured patients that IVF treatments could continue. “What we do could not be any more pro-life. We’re trying to help couples who can’t otherwise conceive a child,” said Dr. Brett Davenport of the Fertility Institute.

Last week, Alabama justices ruled that three couples whose frozen embryos were destroyed in a mishap at a storage facility could pursue wrongful death claims for their “extrauterine children.” The finding, treating the embryos similar to a child or gestating fetus under the wrongful death statute, raised questions about what legal liabilities clinics could face during IVF processes, including the freezing, testing and disposal of embryos. Justices cited the wording of the wrongful death statute along with language added to the Alabama Constitution in 2018 saying that the state recognizes the “rights of the unborn child.” In response, Republican state Sen. Tim Melson, who is also a doctor, said he intends to file legislation to clarify that a fertilized egg has legal protections under the statutes once it is implanted in the uterus but until then is a “potential life.”


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