Nation's top health official to visit Alabama in wake of IVF ruling

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration is sending the nation's top health official to Alabama on Tuesday for discussions with patients and doctors about the controversial court ruling that upended in vitro fertilization treatment in the state.

The ruling by the Republican-controlled Alabama Supreme Court has unexpectedly propelled the issue of IVF into the presidential campaign conversation right ahead of Super Tuesday voting on March 5.

The visit by Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra comes just days after former President Donald Trump vowed to protect access to the fertility care.

President Joe Biden and his allies have been quick to seize on last week's ruling — which says that frozen embryos can be considered children under state law and threatens the future of fertility care in the state — as evidence that Republicans have gone too far with restricting reproductive care. Some Republicans, too, have said they're alarmed by the ruling.

Biden called the ruling “outrageous” in a statement. Vice President Kamala Harris described the decision as the epitome of “irony,” since it could impede families' ability to have children.

Several clinics have paused IVF treatment since the court's decision came down. Some lawmakers in the state say they're scrambling for a fix.

Trump, who appointed anti-abortion judges to the U.S. Supreme Court and in federal judgeships around the country, came out strongly against the ruling on Friday saying on his own social media platform, "We want to make it easier for mothers and fathers to have babies, not harder!”

During his visit to Alabama, Becerra will meet with patients and doctors who have been impacted by the state court's ruling.

“The decision in Alabama will have heart-wrenching consequences for women & their families," Becerra said in a social media post reacting to the ruling last week.

Amanda Seitz, The Associated Press