The connection between overthrowing the Roe decision and Alabama's embryo ruling

 February 25, 2024

An Alabama Supreme Court ruling, deeming frozen embryos as children and allowing legal action for their destruction under wrongful death laws, highlights the evolving legal landscape post-Roe v. Wade, with implications for embryo rights and fertility treatments.

Released this month, the ruling emerged from lawsuits involving three sets of parents who alleged that frozen embryos at a Mobile hospital were destroyed in 2020.

The background

Initially dismissed, the cases gained traction after the state's highest court reversed the decision, citing wrongful death laws.

This groundbreaking ruling signifies the first instance in the U.S. where frozen embryos have been legally recognized as human beings. It is rooted in a series of legislative and judicial events dating back to 2006, when Alabama revised its criminal statute to include in utero victims of homicide.

Subsequent court decisions and a constitutional amendment in 2018, asserting the state's support for unborn life, laid the groundwork for this legal interpretation.

The controversy

The ruling has sparked bipartisan efforts in Alabama's legislature to safeguard in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments. Proposed legislation seeks to clarify that embryos outside the uterus are not considered human beings under state law, aiming to mitigate potential consequences of the court's decision.

On the federal level, Democratic lawmakers introduced the Access to Family Building Act to protect access to infertility treatments like IVF.

The bill addresses concerns about state-level restrictions post-Roe, particularly regarding embryo disposal and pregnancy termination during assisted reproductive procedures.

Biden's response

President Joe Biden condemned the Alabama ruling, attributing it to the erosion of Roe's protections and highlighting the broader implications for women's reproductive rights.

He pledged to uphold Roe's principles through federal legislation, underscoring the administration's commitment to women's increasing abortion access despite the court's decision.

The ruling's impact extends beyond legal realms, raising concerns among fertility specialists about its potential barriers to infertility treatment access.

As states navigate the post-Roe landscape, questions persist about the status of embryos and the scope of reproductive rights.

The Alabama ruling underscores the evolving legal discourse surrounding embryo rights and fertility treatments in the cases taking place after the overturn of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court.

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