Alabama IVF ruling isn't about morality. Republicans supporting it hurt people who want kids.

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Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley is applauding a legal decision in Alabama that, if applied nationally, could affect family planning for hundreds of thousands of patients who undergo in vitro fertilization to get pregnant.

After the Alabama Supreme Court ruled last week that the embryos created during IVF are “extrauterine children,” Haley told NBC News on Wednesday that she agreed with the decision. She also seemed to misunderstand the real implications of the ruling.

Embryos, to me, are babies,” said Haley, a former governor of South Carolina and a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. She mentioned that she used artificial insemination to conceive her son – a completely different procedure from IVF – and that she and her husband were able to explore their options with her doctor.

When asked about the potential issues this could create for those using IVF to have kids, Haley noted that these are conversations patients should be having with their doctors.

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley campaigns for president in Georgetown on Feb. 22, 2024, two days before the state holds its Republican primary.
Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley campaigns for president in Georgetown on Feb. 22, 2024, two days before the state holds its Republican primary.

What Alabama IVF ruling means to real patients

The only problem is that those conversations aren’t possible in Alabama anymore. The court’s decision has resulted in IVF facilities within the state halting procedures until further notice.

Alabama embryo ruling: Alabama cares deeply about frozen embryos. The health of children and adults? Not so much.

There are patients who were hoping this would be the week that would lead to a positive pregnancy test, only to have their doctors cancel.

These are people who want children, who feel so called to have them that they would spend between $15,000 and $30,000 on a single cycle of treatment, just for the chance to get pregnant. There are patients who may now have to pay to permanently store their frozen embryos, as the ruling keeps them from being destroyed. That can cost up to $600 annually.

How many families use IVF in the United States?

Between 600,000 to 1 million embryos are frozen in U.S. clinics. Before the overturning of Roe v. Wade, these embryos were considered private property that could be used, donated or destroyed. In Alabama, they are now considered children, even though they won’t develop without being implanted.

What happens to my last frozen embryo? An embryo that could be my second child is in Alabama. A court just put that in jeopardy.

The Supreme Court justices ignored the concerns of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, which filed a brief that said a decision like this one could make IVF even more expensive. In the worst case scenario, it could shut down fertility clinics in the state and lead doctors to practice medicine somewhere else.

In 2021, more than 97,000 infants were born across the country as a result of IVF. Not only is it expensive, it's exhausting. The process involves harvesting eggs from a potential parent or donor, fertilizing them with sperm in a lab setting, and then implanting the resulting embryo in a uterus. It is often the last resort of families dealing with infertility.

What do Republicans actually want for families?

It seems counterintuitive for Republicans like Haley and the Alabama Supreme Court to take a stance that could actually keep someone from the family they want.

Haley has made her stance on abortion clear – she has already said that she would sign a national ban if elected, and if such a bill would ever make it through Congress.

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Alabama's justices used religious fervor to argue that life begins at conception, and included anti-abortion remarks in their written decision.

The problem is that this isn't even abortion – this is a fertility treatment. This is a means for people to have children, and it isn't perfect.

The success rate is less than 50% for people under 35 undergoing treatment, which is exactly why multiple embryos are created during the procedure. In trying to prove a point about Christianity and morality, Republicans are hurting people who actually want children.

At best, it's ironic. At worst, it's cruel.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Haley supports the Alabama IVF ruling. She actually misunderstands it