Alabama hospital puts pause on IVF after ruling says frozen embryos are children - Hindustan Times
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Alabama hospital puts pause on IVF after ruling says frozen embryos are children; how will it impact Americans?

Feb 22, 2024 01:26 PM IST

The Alabama Supreme Court's decision, bolstered by anti-abortion language in the state constitution, could have a lasting impact on the fertility industry.

After Alabama's Supreme Court declared frozen embryos as the legal equivalent of children, state's largest hospital, the University of Alabama at Birmingham health system, has temporarily halted IVF services.

(FILES) A scientific researcher handles frozen embryonic stem cells in a laboratory, at the University of Sao Paulo's human genome research center, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on March 4, 2008. (AFP)
(FILES) A scientific researcher handles frozen embryonic stem cells in a laboratory, at the University of Sao Paulo's human genome research center, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on March 4, 2008. (AFP)

What is the Alabama Court Ruling on Frozen Embryos?

Alabama SC ruling stems from a case where three couples sued for wrongful death after their frozen embryos were destroyed in a storage facility accident. The court, citing the state constitution's recognition of the "rights of the unborn child," opened the door for lawsuits based on wrongful death. This decision has thrown the future of IVF treatments in the state into uncertainty.

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Reproductive endocrinologists, like Dr. Michael C. Allemand from Alabama Fertility, expressed disbelief and concern over the ruling. IVF, a common solution for couples facing fertility challenges, now faces potential legal complications. The court's declaration that "unborn children are 'children' without exception" raises questions about the fundamental practices of IVF, impacting providers and patients alike.

Gabby and Spencer Goidel, a couple from Auburn, Alabama, shared their struggles with multiple miscarriages and their decision to pursue IVF. The ruling, coinciding with Gabby's IVF cycle, raised fears of treatment disruptions. Gabby emphasized the real-life impact on couples pursuing the "American dream" of starting a family.

Alabama Court Ruling on Frozen: The Context

The court's decision, rooted in anti-abortion language added to the state constitution in 2018, raises concerns about the broader implications of treating embryos as children rather than property. Barbara Collura, CEO of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, questioned whether this new perspective on embryos as persons could challenge established IVF practices, including embryo freezing.

The Alabama Supreme Court's decision, bolstered by anti-abortion language in the state constitution, could have a lasting impact on the fertility industry. Eric Johnston, an anti-abortion activist involved in drafting the constitutional language, acknowledged the ethical and legal complexities arising from considering frozen embryos as persons.

Providers and fertility clinics affected by the ruling may seek to challenge the decision through legal avenues, potentially reaching the U.S. Supreme Court. As the IVF community grapples with this unprecedented development, the decision highlights the intersection of legal, medical, and ethical considerations in the evolving landscape of reproductive rights.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Vertika Kanaujia is Editor Audience Growth at Hindustan Times and oversees the website’s coverage of business news, health, technology and internet culture. She is a Chevening Scholar and a Columbia Journalism University Fellow. Vertika has been a journalist for more than 18 years. After starting her career as a business journalist in TV she has worked with various leading news channels. You can email her at vertika.kanaujia@htdigital.in.

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