Following Alabama Supreme Court's IVF liability ruling, state legislature swiftly passes IVF clinic immunity bill

 March 8, 2024

The Alabama Supreme Court sparked controversy nationwide just two weeks ago when it ruled that, for the state's wrongful death of a minor liability law, frozen embryos created as part of the in-vitro fertilization process counted as unborn human babies.

That ruling prompted several IVF clinics in the state to cease services for fear of potential future liability claims, but the negative effects of the court ruling were just seemingly addressed and overturned by the swift actions of the Republican-controlled Alabama Legislature, Breitbart reported.

Within days, both legislative chambers passed, and the governor immediately signed, a bill that provides immunity to IVF clinics against civil and criminal liability claims.

Alabama legislators pass bill providing immunity to IVF clinics

Alabama's 1819 News reported that the state's House and Senate both swiftly approved by wide margins the bill that seeks to correct the problems that arose following the Alabama Supreme Court's recent ruling on IVF and liability for the death or destruction of frozen embryos.

The new law, which took effect immediately after Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed the bill Wednesday evening, provides both civil and criminal immunity from liability to IVF clinics in the state for any damages or death caused to a frozen embryo.

In addition, the law allows for compensatory damages to be sought against the manufacturers of items used in the IVF process, though not criminal charges, as well as transporters of frozen embryos, and sets a scale for the price of compensatory damages based on the IVF cycle.

To be sure, despite passing both chambers by wide margins, not everybody was happy with the bill, and several Republican legislators spoke out in opposition to the measure, with some arguing that it set a bad precedent while others claimed it exposed hypocrisy among supposed pro-life members who insist life begins at conception and also put a price on human lives.

That said, other Republicans defended the legislation as being inherently pro-life, in that it will protect clinics that help otherwise infertile couples have more children, and suggested that some of the sticking points, such as the issue of full personhood for frozen embryos, could be addressed by future legislation or constitutional amendments.

Gov. Ivey immediately signs IVF clinic immunity bill into law

After she signed the bill into law, Gov. Ivey said in a statement, "The overwhelming support of SB159 from the Alabama Legislature proves what we have been saying: Alabama works to foster a culture of life, and that certainly includes IVF. I am pleased to sign this important, short-term measure into law so that couples in Alabama hoping and praying to be parents can grow their families through IVF."

"IVF is a complex issue, no doubt, and I anticipate there will be more work to come, but right now, I am confident that this legislation will provide the assurances our IVF clinics need and will lead them to resume services immediately," she continued.

After thanking the lawmakers who pushed the bill to passage so quickly, Ivey added, "Make no mistake about it, though, in the coming days, weeks and months, particularly as we are in the heat of a national election, we will hear a lot of political rhetoric around IVF. Let me say clearly: Alabama supports growing families through IVF. From protecting the unborn to supporting IVF, Alabama is proud we are a pro-life, pro-family state."

House Speaker Ledbetter says IVF clinic immunity bill is a "pro-life piece of legislation"

In a statement posted to his X account, Alabama House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter (R) said, "Two weeks ago, the future of IVF in Alabama was in danger. A bill that protects our IVF clinics has now been signed into law -- five legislative days later. I couldn’t be prouder of how the House and Senate came together and passed a pro-life bill for the people of Alabama."

In remarks to an 1819 News reporter, Ledbetter told the outlet, "This is probably as much of a pro-life piece of legislation that we've ever passed," and added, "I commend each and every one of these men and women that's standing with me and around me because of the way that they treated this issue and the way that things are moving forward."

As for why some of the more thorny related issues weren't addressed in the bill, such as embryonic personhood, the Speaker explained that they were left out because more discussion was needed and "We didn't want to act too quick and cause more disruption than what we should."

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