Updated Feb 27, 2024 - News

Amid IVF ruling backlash, Florida's fetal wrongful death bill stalls

illustration of fertilization of an egg

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

An Alabama Supreme Court ruling that says frozen embryos have the same wrongful death protections as children is having a ripple effect in Florida, where Democrats are warning of potential threats to fertility care.

Why it matters: Friday's court ruling led some Republicans across the U.S. to come out in support of in vitro fertilization, or IVF, despite previously supporting legislation that sought to define embryos as human beings from the moment of fertilization with no exceptions for IVF.

What they're saying: "The door to fetal personhood is now officially open in Florida with dangerous and potentially deadly consequences," Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried said in a press call Tuesday.

The intrigue: Even as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and others have publicly expressed support for IVF, 125 House Republicans are currently co-sponsoring a bill that uses similar legal arguments to those in the Alabama case to protect unborn life, the Washington Post reports.

  • The Life at Conception Act, co-sponsored by eight Florida Republicans, says "the right to life … is vested in each human being at all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization." (Most of the Florida lawmakers did not respond when asked Tuesday whether they support IVF.)

Rep. Kat Cammack (R-Gainesville) wouldn't say whether she stands by her support of the Life at Conception Act, but tells Axios she opposes "any restriction" on IVF.

  • "There is nothing more pro-life than helping women start and raise families."

Flashback: Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Naples) co-sponsored the 2021 version of the bill but over the weekend expressed his support for IVF.

  • He has not signed onto the latest version and said he wanted to see "the devil in the details," per Business Insider. (Donalds did not immediately respond to a request for comment about his previous support for the bill.)

The latest: On Monday, Republican State Sen. Erin Grall of Vero Beach requested that her bill on wrongful death protections for unborn babies be postponed, saying "there is still work that needs to be done."

  • The bill defined an unborn child as being carried in the womb, addressing fears about its potential impacts to IVF, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
  • But Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book said it would still be a "backdoor attempt" to codify "fetal personhood," according to the Times.

What's next: A federal bill protecting the right to IVF could head to a vote this week.

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