Mar 7, 2024 - Health

Alabama IVF clinics plan to restart operations

Collage of culture dishes being prepared to collect eggs egg retrieval surrounded by radial lines

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jens Kalaene/picture alliance via Getty Images

Two Alabama IVF clinics say they are reopening after Gov. Kay Ivey late Wednesday signed legislation to insulate providers from legal claims in the wake of a court ruling on the status of frozen embryos.

Why it matters: The Alabama Supreme Court decision that embryos are children prompted a scramble for a legislative fix and put Republicans nationwide in the hot seat, facing charges they were interfering with reproductive rights.

  • The new law didn't contain the political fallout. IVF and reproductive health will be featured prominently during the State of the Union tonight.

Driving the news: Alabama Fertility Specialists, one of the three IVF providers in the state that halted treatments after the ruling, said on Facebook that embryo transfers and IVF would restart this week.

  • The fertility clinic credited the bill sponsors "for finding a solution in a complex issue."

What they're saying: The University of Alabama at Birmingham said in a statement Thursday that it was moving "promptly" to resume services and expressed thanks for fast action on "legislation that provides some protections," Reuters reported.

  • Infirmary Health Systems and the Center for Reproductive Medicine, the IVF provider that was targeted in wrongful death suits prompting the state Supreme Court decision, said it would continue to keep services on hold, per the New York Times.
  • "At this time, we believe the law falls short of addressing the fertilized eggs currently stored across the state and leaves challenges for physicians and fertility clinics trying to help deserving families have children of their own," the clinic said, according to NYT.

Catch up quick: The Republican-controlled legislature didn't weigh in on the question of "personhood" that's at the crux of the controversy.

  • Some legal experts have termed the legislative fix a "Band-Aid" and even warned against beginning IVF treatment in the state.
  • The new state law doesn't necessarily mean IVF providers can go back to business as usual, sponsor Tim Melson, a Republican state senator, told Reuters.
  • Melson said during a debate on Thursday that, as a result of the court ruling, some providers told him they planned to start perpetually storing embryos that aren't implanted into a uterus, Reuters reported.

Go deeper: Alabama IVF bills are a "Band-Aid" to explosive court ruling

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