GOP Backtracks On IVF Ruling

Alabama Republican Governor Kay Ivey last Wednesday, signed into law a bill that will protect IVF providers from civil and criminal liability to address concerns over the state Supreme Court’s February ruling that cleared the way for three couples to sue an IVF provider for wrongful death, CBS News reported.

Republican lawmakers acted quickly to propose legislation to protect IVF facilities after several providers paused services following the February 20 ruling.

The state Supreme Court last month ruled that the three couples could sue an IVF facility for wrongful death after their frozen embryos were destroyed in a storage mishap, concluding that the embryos could be considered “unborn children.”

In its ruling, the court determined that unborn children were protected under the state Constitution no matter their “developmental stage” or “physical location,” and therefore, the parents could sue the provider for wrongful death in their destruction.

The state Senate and state House each passed separate legislation on February 29 granting criminal and civil liability to IVF providers. Ultimately, both chambers took up the Senate version of the bill, SB 159.

The final bill passed both chambers on Wednesday night and was quickly signed into law by Governor Ivey.

Under the new law, no legal action, lawsuits, or criminal prosecution can be brought against any individual or entity involved with in vitro fertilization services “for the damage to or death of an embryo.”

The immunity in the law is retroactive but does not include immunity from litigation that is already pending.

Civil lawsuits can still be pursued against manufacturers of goods used in IVF treatment, like the nutrient-rich solutions in which a fertilized egg is grown. However, the law caps damages in such cases and prevents criminal prosecution.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican state Senator Tim Melson, a physician, said he was “elated” that with Governor Ivey’s signature, women whose IVF treatment was paused due to the state Supreme Court’s ruling could get “back on schedule.”

In signing the law, Governor Ivey said its overwhelming support in both chambers proved that “Alabama works to foster a culture of life,” including IVF.