Alabama governor signs legislation protecting IVF providers into law

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Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed a bill Wednesday protecting in vitro fertilization (IVF) providers from the state Supreme Court’s recent ruling that frozen embryos are to be considered children.

The legislation, titled S.B. 159, will shield IVF providers from lawsuits or criminal charges over the “death or damage to an embryo” during the IVF process. The bill was passed by both the state Senate and House shortly before heading to Ivey’s desk Wednesday night.

“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 said in a statement shortly after signing the bill. “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.”

Calling IVF a “complex issue,” Ivey said she is confident the bill will allow IVF clinics to “resume services immediately.”

Lawmakers in Alabama faced mounting pressure to ensure the protection of IVF providers after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled last month that frozen embryos and fertilized eggs are considered children under state law. The ruling said embryos are subject to legislation related to the wrongful death of a minor, which will now “apply to all unborn children, regardless of their location.”

Alabama’s three major IVF clinics paused services last month in the wake of the ruling, The Associated Press reported.

The decision, while limited to Alabama, cast a national spotlight on IVF and how the ruling could prompt a new fight over reproductive rights across the country. The ruling did not outlaw IVF, though fertility experts have warned the new legal standards could make the process more expensive and less accessible.

Democrats lambasted the ruling, while Republicans who oppose abortion but support IVF were forced to explain their complicated position when explaining their views to voters.

“Make no mistake about it, though, in the coming days, weeks and months, particularly as we are in the heat of a national election, we will hear a lot of political rhetoric around IVF,” Ivey said. “Let me say clearly: Alabama supports growing families through IVF.”

The passage of the bills Wednesday night followed debates in both chambers Tuesday, which resulted in the removal of the term “goods” from the phrase “goods or services,” from the legislation. NBC News reported this means companies providing items for the IVF process could still face civil suits but not criminal prosecution if courts determine their products damage or destroy embryos.

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