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Hospital pauses IVF treatments after Alabama Supreme Court rules that embryos are children
Photo by IVAN COURONNE/AFP via Getty Images

Hospital pauses IVF treatments after Alabama Supreme Court rules that embryos are children

Alabama's largest hospital recently announced it is halting in-vitro fertilization treatments after the state's supreme court ruled that embryos have the same rights as "unborn children," the Associated Press reported.

On Wednesday, the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at the University of Alabama at Birmingham reportedly paused IVF services while it determines whether its patients or staff could face criminal charges or damages.

Savannah Koplon, a spokesperson for the hospital, told the AP, "We are saddened that this will impact our patients' attempt to have a baby through IVF."

Dr. Michael C. Allemand, a reproductive endocrinologist at Alabama Fertility, told the news outlet that he felt "disbelief, denial, all the stages of grief" in reaction to the court's recent decision.

"The moments that our patients are wanting to have by growing their families — Christmas mornings with grandparents, kindergarten, going in the first day of school, with little backpacks — all that stuff is what this is about. Those are the real moments that this ruling could deprive patients of," Allemand stated.

The Medical Association of Alabama released a statement regarding the court's ruling.

"The significance of this decision impacts all Alabamians and will likely lead to fewer babies — children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins — as fertility options become limited for those who want to have a family," the association wrote. "In addition, the ruling has already forced UAB, the largest healthcare system in the State of Alabama, to stop providing IVF services to Alabama couples. Others will likely do the same, leaving little to no alternatives for reproductive assistance. IVF is oftentimes the only option for couples wanting to conceive."

Lawsuits filed in 2021 by three couples accused the Mobile Infirmary Medical Center and the Center for Reproductive Medicine of wrongful death, negligence, and breach of contract after their frozen embryos were accidentally destroyed, Blaze News previously reported.

According to the complaints, a Mobile hospital patient entered the area where the embryos were stored, removed them from the freezer, and dropped them. As a result, all of the embryos died.

The couples accused the hospital of "allow[ing] one of its patients to leave and/or elope from his or her room in the Infirmary's hospital area and access the cryogenic storage area."

"It is believed that the cryopreservation's subzero temperatures burned the eloping patient's hands, causing him or her to drop the cryopreserved embryonic human beings on the floor, where they began to slowly die," the lawsuit continued.

The state's Wrongful Death of a Minor Act "applies to all unborn children, regardless of their location," Justice Jay Mitchell wrote in his decision.

"The Wrongful Death of a Minor Act is sweeping and unqualified. It applies to all children, born and unborn, without limitation. It is not the role of this Court to craft a new limitation based on our own view of what is or is not wise public policy. That is especially true where, as here, the People of this State have adopted a Constitutional amendment directly aimed at stopping courts from excluding 'unborn life' from legal protection," Mitchell stated.

Chief Justice Tom Parker agreed with Mitchell's opinion.

"When the People of Alabama adopted [the 'sanctity of life' provision of the state constitution], they did not use the term 'inviolability,' with its secular connotations, but rather they chose the term' sanctity,' with all of its connotations," Parker wrote. "This kind of acceptance is not foreign to our Constitution, which in its preamble 'invok[es] the favor and guidance of Almighty God,'… and which declares that 'all men … are endowed [with life] by their Creator.' The Alabama Constitution's recognition that human life is an endowment from God emphasizes a foundational principle of English common law, which has been expressly incorporated as part of the law of Alabama."

Parker noted that "all human beings bear God's image from the moment of conception."

Justice Greg Cook gave the only dissenting opinion and expressed concerns that the ruling could impact IVF treatments.

"No court — anywhere in the country — has reached the conclusion the main opinion reaches. And, the main opinion's holding almost certainly ends the creation of frozen embryos through in vitro fertilization ('IVF') in Alabama," Cook said.

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Candace Hathaway

Candace Hathaway

Candace Hathaway is a staff writer for Blaze News.
@candace_phx →