Will Alabama’s IVF Crisis See Resolution? ‘Legal Shadow Hangs Over Patients’


When the Republican-controlled Legislature passed a bill in March to preserve in vitro fertilization (IVF) services in the state, lawmakers stated that they intended to appoint a committee to investigate the matter further.

Almost three months later, the commission has yet to be formed.

“I don’t have an update right now. “I think over the next couple of weeks, we’re going to actually tour some IVF centers and get more information,” said Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, who carried the bill in the House after it passed the Senate.

Following the Alabama Supreme Court’s ruling on February 16 to deem frozen embryos infants, the Legislature acted fast to shield IVF clinics from criminal and civil liability. After critics labeled the proposal a “Band-Aid fix,” Republican lawmakers indicated that they would investigate deeper.

The court’s decision followed a case filed in 2020 alleging improper destruction of frozen embryos at a Mobile clinic. It ruled that the parents could claim damages under an 1872 state legislation for their children’s deaths.

Following the verdict, several IVF programs were closed due to legal dangers to both patients and providers. The Mobile health care system, which provided in vitro fertilization (IVF) care, announced that the clinic will cease operations at the end of the year, citing lawsuits over fertility therapy.

Collins, who supported Alabama’s near-total abortion ban in 2019, stated that a “few different groups” will tour the facilities, but did not identify the groups or persons participating.

“Different persons have been able to meet at different times. “I don’t know who will attend each of the meetings,” Collins stated.

She also did not specify who would be on the study commission.

“I don’t know who will be a part of the entire thing—no, I don’t,” Collins said, adding that once those conversations take place and they start talking about legislation, she’ll “know better who’s going to be a part of it.”

Charles Murry, a spokesperson for House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville, said in a text message that the office “should have an announcement on that within the next week.”

According to Betsy Campbell, chief engagement officer of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, Collins has contacted the organization and is “interested in making sure that access to IVF is protected in Alabama.”

“We haven’t had any detailed conversations,” Campbell explained, adding that the organization “offered to be a resource as they explore a more permanent solution for full and permanent protection of IVF in the state.”

The court also based its ruling on the 2018 “Sanctity of Life” amendment to the Alabama Constitution, which was passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2017 and approved by voters in 2018. The amendment states that “it is the public policy of this state to recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, including the right to life.”

House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels, D-Huntsville, introduced an amendment to address the issue with another constitutional amendment. It was co-sponsored by all 28 Democratic House members, but it was not brought up for a committee vote.

Daniels did not respond to a request for comment.

Campbell stated that the legislation was intended as a short-term solution to assure access to IVF, but “everyone agreed that it didn’t address the underlying issue of the [state] Supreme Court ruling — that embryos have the same rights as living children.”

“That issue still needs to be addressed, or there’s a shadow hanging over patients and providers during IVF that could still impact the standard of care,” she stated.

She expressed her hope that the matter will be resolved next year, as the ambiguity around the temporary solution could harm people and providers.

“We want to ensure that any legislation that is passed is not rushed, but rather done properly. At the same time, you don’t want this to drag on, leaving patients wondering whether they should pursue this medically necessary care in their own state,” Campbell explained.

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