Speaker Passes Buck On IVF Ruling

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson said in a recent interview that state lawmakers would have to decide how to deal with the question of in vitro fertilization in the wake of the Alabama Supreme Court’s February decision, CBS News reported.

While appearing on “CBS Mornings” on March 7, the speaker was asked about the Alabama legislature passing a bill the day before to protect IVF providers from civil and criminal liability. The bill was quickly signed into law by Alabama’s Republican Governor Kay Ivey.

Johnson told host Tony Dokoupil that lawmakers in pro-life states needed to examine the ethics of the issue. He explained that for those who “believe that life begins at conception,” the question tackled by the Alabama Supreme Court was an “important question to wrestle with.”

The Alabama high court in late February ruled that three Alabama couples whose frozen embryos were destroyed in a storage mishap could sue the IVF provider for wrongful death, arguing that the state Constitution protected unborn children regardless of their stage of development or “physical location.”

Johnson expressed his support for in vitro fertilization and said that states would have to consider how to handle the issue ethically.

Citing his home state of Louisiana, Johnson said some states place a limit on the number of fertilized eggs an IVF provider can create “because they’re sensitive to that issue.”

He said every state would have to “wrestle” with the issue and praised Alabama’s quick action, saying the state “has done a good job of it.”

Under Alabama’s new law, no legal action, including lawsuits or criminal prosecutions, can be brought against IVF facilities or their employees “for the damage to or death of an embryo.”

The law still permits civil lawsuits against companies that manufacture materials used in IVF treatments but places caps on the damages. At the same time, the new law grants immunity from criminal liability to manufacturers of IVF materials.