Alabama Republicans introduce bills that would let IVF clinics destroy human embryos

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Republicans in both chambers of the Alabama Legislature are introducing bills that would shield clinics from civil and criminal liability when destroying human embryos during the process of in vitro fertilization (IVF).

The legislation comes after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that the Wrongful Death of a Minor Act applies to “all children, born and unborn,” including human embryos. In 2018, Alabama voters approved a constitutional amendment via a referendum that affirmed “the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children.”

Lawmakers intend to bypass the Supreme Court’s decision by providing clinics immunity from criminal prosecution and civil litigation when providing IVF services. This applies in all cases, except when there is an intentional “act of omission” that is unrelated to IVF services. The bills were introduced on Tuesday, Feb. 27.

IVF is a fertility treatment in which doctors fuse sperm and eggs to create human embryos and implant them in the mother’s womb without a sexual act. Embryos that are intended to be implanted at a later date are frozen. Undesired embryos are routinely destroyed or used for scientific research, which kills those preborn children.

As initially drafted, the legislation does not include immunity for patients who receive IVF treatments, but Rep. Tim Melson said during a news conference that such protections would be added to the legislation before it comes up for a vote. 

“This isn’t about politics,” said Melson, who introduced the House version of the bill. “This is about patients, and we want to make sure we take care of patients today.”

Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America and the Alabama Policy Institute issued a joint statement criticizing the lawmakers for supporting the legislation, which they claim is in conflict with pro-life principles. 

“It is unacceptable [that] the Alabama Legislature has advanced a bill that falls short of pro-life expectations and fails to respect the dignity of human life,” the statement read. 

“Alabama can do both: allow the continued practice of IVF with care for those suffering from infertility and respect life created through the IVF,” the statement continued. “We have full confidence that the same legislature that passed a law protecting the unborn throughout pregnancy will also take this crucial step to continue protecting all human life, in keeping with the people of Alabama who are ardently pro-life.”

Both bills are still in committee and have not yet come up for a floor vote. 

The court’s ruling stems from a lawsuit in which three families argued that an IVF clinic should be held accountable for the accidental death of their preborn children, which were frozen embryos under the clinic’s care. Some Alabama clinics suspended IVF procedures after the ruling.

Numerous Republicans in Congress have recently come out in support of IVF and criticized the Alabama ruling even though the destruction of human embryos remains an integral part of the industry. 

Former President Donald Trump, the Republican Senatorial Committee, and the Congressional Leadership Fund (the largest political action committee focused on electing Republicans to the House of Representatives) have all encouraged Republican lawmakers and candidates to voice support for IVF procedures.

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