Alabama Clinics Stop IVF Treatments After Ruling

( – Almost immediately after the Supreme Court of Alabama ruled that frozen embryos are now legally considered “children,” three providers of in vitro fertilization services have suspended those services to consider the legal implications and possible repercussions.

On Friday, Feb. 16, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that “all unborn children” are protected by the Wrongful Death of a Minor Act, including frozen embryos. The ruling came in response to a lawsuit from three couples claiming that a hospital patient accidentally destroyed their embryos after wandering into a cryogenic storage room.

The first announcement came on Wednesday, Feb. 21, from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). The following day, Alabama Fertility announced that it would pause IVF services. Finally, the clinic sued by the three couples, The Center for Reproductive Medicine, announced the same day that they would also pause any further procedures in the wake of the court decision.

The CEO of Infirmary Health, Mark Nix, said that the clinics “understand the burden” placed on “deserving families” seeking to have children using IVF.

A UAB spokesperson, Hannah Echols, specified that although egg retrieval will still be permitted, no more eggs will be fertilized nor any new embryos developed. She said although the university is “saddened” by the impact the decision will have on patients attempting to have children via IVF, they must “evaluate the potential” that patients and physicians may face criminal prosecution “or face punitive damages.”

Alabama Fertility said they are looking for solutions for those affected by the decision and are working hard to alert Alabama legislators about the “far-reaching negative impact” the ruling will have on women in the state.

IVF is the process of combining eggs and sperm to create embryos in a lab and subsequently placed inside the patient’s uterus. Extra unused embryos are usually frozen and placed in storage. Following standard practice, the embryos are also often thrown out due to genetic abnormalities or if no longer required by the patients. Patients and providers are concerned that following such standards could now lead to legal trouble.

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