Alabama state legislature overwhelmingly passes bills protecting IVF

Both chambers of the Alabama Legislature overwhelmingly passed legislation Thursday protecting patients and medical professionals from civil and criminal liability for in vitro fertilization treatments.

The move comes after the state Supreme Court ruled embryos are considered children, causing panic among IVF advocates.

The House bill passed by a vote of 94-6, and the Senate bill passed 32-0.

Filed by Terri Collins, R- Morgan County, HB 237 reaffirms Attorney General Steve Marshall's statement that the state has "no intention of using the recent Alabama Supreme Court decision as a basis for prosecuting IVF families or providers."

It's companion bill, SB 159, also seeks to protect patients and providers. Both bills now go to the opposite chamber for review. Collins said they are aiming to get the measure approved and to the governor on Wednesday.

"This would at least keep the clinics open and the families moving forward," Collins said, per the Associated Press.

The state Supreme Court in February ruled that frozen embryos are "extrauterine children" and legally protected like any other child. The decision led many providers in the state to halt IVF for fear of facing possible homicide charges when handling embryos during the IVF process. The ruling received national opposition from both Republicans and Democrats.

The passing of the Alabama bills arrives a day after a rally in support of IVF outside the statehouse and the same week the Biden administration dispatched its top health officer to Alabama to meet with IVF families.

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Alabama high court decision creates national waves

Alabama's February decision that frozen embryos should be legally treated as children had impacts across the country.

U.S. Senators brought a bill Wednesday under unanimous consent that would have enshrined IVF protections for parents and doctors, but it was blocked by a Republican Senator from Mississippi.

In Florida, a bill that critics say would have bolstered fetal personhood legal arguments was shelved Monday as Republicans rushed to support IVF.

The Alabama Supreme Court ruling put U.S. Senate Republicans in a tough spot, as indicated by a memo that went out three days after the decision. National Republican Senatorial Committee executive director Jason Thielman cited the overwhelming support for fertility treatments, even among conservative voters, in the memo that encouraged senators to come out in support for IVF.

He called the ruling "fodder for Democrats hoping to manipulate the abortion issue for electoral gain," going on to say, "there are zero Republican Senate candidates who support efforts to restrict access to fertility treatments."

Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville has spoken out in support of the state's Supreme Court ruling, emphasizing that the U.S. Supreme Court's decision that overturned Roe v. Wade put the decision back in the hands of the states.

His stance on IVF, however, was a bit more murky as he condemned the hospital's move to end IVF treatments.

Former President Donald Trump also called on Alabama lawmakers to reverse the decision and spoke out in support of IVF.

Contributing: Trevor Hughes, Rachel Looker, Riley Beggin, James Call; USA TODAY; Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: IVF bills to protect procedure pass Alabama Senate and House