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Alabama lawmakers advance legislation granting legal protections to IVF clinics
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Alabama lawmakers advance legislation granting legal protections to IVF clinics

Alabama lawmakers passed Republican-proposed bills Thursday that would grant legal protections to in-vitro fertilization clinics following a state Supreme Court ruling that declared embryos are children.

Senate Bill 159 provides "civil and criminal immunity for death or damage to an embryo to any individual or entity when providing or receiving goods or services related to in vitro fertilization."

"This section is intended to apply retroactively," the proposed legislation stated.

House Bill 237 similarly states that "no action, suit, or criminal prosecution for the damage to or death of an embryo shall be brought or maintained against any individual or entity when providing or receiving goods or services related to in vitro fertilization."

While both sides of the aisle presented objections, the bills passed in the Senate and the House with bipartisan support.

Democrats raised concerns that the legislation did not clarify whether an embryo created by IVF should be treated as a child, NBC News reported. Additionally, both parties questioned whether the "immunity" provided by the bills was too broad and would fail to protect women injured during IVF care.

The Alabama House and Senate need to vote on a unified version of the bills before a bill can be sent to Republican Governor Kay Ivey's desk for a signature. The legislature is slated to vote on the legal protections on Wednesday. Following the full vote, Ivey is expected to sign it into law.

Democratic Representative Adline Clarke stated that there are "major parts" of the legislation that "are still missing."

Republican Representative Terri Collins, HB 237's chief sponsor, explained that the bill was created as a quick fix that would allow IVF clinics to reopen after some abruptly closed in response to the Supreme Court's ruling.

"We want the clinics to be open," Collins said. "This is what this is trying to accomplish."

Jaylen Black, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood Southeast, accused the lawmakers of failing to address the bigger issue of the Supreme Court's ruling.

Black told NBC News, "While these bills aim to establish legal safeguards for IVF providers, it's important to recognize their limited effectiveness in addressing the full scope of the recent Alabama Supreme Court ruling, which deems embryos created through IVF to be 'minor children.'"

Last month, several Alabama clinics paused IVF treatments after the court's ruling over fears that patients or staff could face criminal charges or damages.

United States Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) recently introduced a resolution to "protect IVF." The proposed legislation condemns "any judicial ruling that would result in restricted access to fertility care." The bill currently has six cosponsors, all of whom are Republican.

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