Alabama Supreme Court won't rehear controversial IVF ruling

 May 6, 2024

The Alabama Supreme Court has upheld its controversial ruling to clamp down on IVF, which rallied Democrats and left Republicans scrambling to defend the popular procedure. 

The court denied a request 7-2 to revisit the February ruling, which held that frozen embryos are children, sending fertility clinics and patients into limbo.

Alabama court won't revisit ruling

The Alabama Supreme Court ruled in February that three couples could pursue wrongful death lawsuits over the accidental destruction of their frozen embryos.

The Center for Reproductive Medicine and Mobile Infirmary, the defendants in the case, asked for a re-hearing. The Medical Association of the State of Alabama and the Alabama Hospital Association filed briefs in support.

They argued that, despite a new law protecting IVF providers from civil liability, the legal landscape was thrown into doubt by the Supreme Court's ruling.

Alabama's Republican governor, Kay Ivey, signed a law in March protecting IVF providers from civil liability, but the law failed to address whether frozen embryos are human.

Two justices dissent

Two justices on the court, Justices William Sellers and Greg Cook, dissented from the decision not to rehear the case.

They said the court's original ruling came as a shock to the state's citizens and that this was out of line with judicial norms.

“The majority opinion on original submission had significant and sweeping implications for individuals who were entirely unassociated with the parties in the case. Many of those individuals had no reason to believe that a legal and routine medical procedure would be delayed, much less denied, as a result of this Court’s opinion,” Sellers wrote.

IVF ruling scrambles 2024 race

Democrats have sought to tie the Alabama ruling to an alleged, Trump-led attack on women's rights.

A month after the Alabama court's ruling, the Arizona Supreme Court revived a 150-year-old abortion ban, which has since been repealed.

The trial and error of IVF often results in embryos being discarded before a pregnancy is successful. Some Republicans have defended IVF, which is used to treat infertility, as consistent with pro-life principles.

“Under my leadership, the Republican Party will always support the creation of strong, thriving, healthy American families," President Trump wrote in a post. "We want to make it easier for mothers and fathers to have babies, not harder!”

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