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Treatments Resume After Alabama Gov Signs IVF Protection Bill

Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill that provides legal immunity to doctors and patients undergoing IVF treatment. However, the new law does not address the state Supreme Court’s recent ruling that frozen embryos are considered people.

Doctors at Alabama fertility clinics announced plans to resume treatments after Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill to protect doctors from lawsuits arising from a state Supreme Court decision that defined frozen embryos as children.

Dr. Warner Huh, chair of UAB’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, commended politicians for moving quickly on the issue.

“UAB appreciates the Alabama Legislature and Governor Kay Ivey for swiftly passing and signing legislation that provides some protections and will therefore allow UAB to restart in vitro fertilization treatments, also known as IVF,” Huh said.

“While UAB is moving to promptly resume IVF treatments, we will continue to assess developments and advocate for protections for IVF patients and providers.“

Alabama Fertility, a clinic based in Homewood, posted on Facebook plans to resume IVF treatments.

“To our patients - you are our heroes,” the post said.

“We wouldn’t be where we are without you standing up, telling your stories and letting the world know how important IVF treatments are for families in our state. What’s next? Transfers and IVF starts this week and more pregnancies and more babies in Alabama. Let’s get to work!”

The bill provides legal immunity to doctors and patients undergoing IVF treatment.

However, it did not address the supreme court’s holding that state law defines life as beginning at fertilization, and that frozen embryos are considered people.

Barbara Collura, president and CEO of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, sent an emailed statement Wednesday night after the vote.

“RESOLVE is relieved that Alabama clinics can reopen their IVF programs and work with patients to help them fulfill their dreams of becoming parents,” Collura said.

“While we are grateful for the actions of Alabama legislators, this legislation does not address the underlying issue of the status of embryos as part of the IVF process – threatening the long-term standard of care for IVF patients. There is more work to be done.“

Hundreds of IVF patients and supporters rallied at the capitol in recent weeks in support of bills to protect doctors.

In addition to the increased civil liability that doctors could face for embryos destroyed or discarded during treatment, some also wondered if criminal penalties could follow the court’s decision, even after officials for the Alabama Attorney General’'s Office said the agency would not prosecute doctors or patients.

The case began after an unauthorized person entered a storage area at Mobile Infirmary and the Center for Reproductive Medicine and destroyed several frozen embryos.

The families sued the hospital and fertility clinic for wrongful death. A circuit court judge said the statute did not apply to frozen embryos, and the families appealed to the Alabama Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court’s decision will send those cases back to the trial court.

Three of the state’s five IVF clinics announced pauses in some treatments following the decision.

In addition to UAB and Alabama Fertility, the Center for Reproductive Medicine in Mobile also announced a pause. A spokesperson for that clinic did not immediately respond to questions about treatment.

©2024 Advance Local Media LLC. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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