Alabama hospital to stop offering IVF by end of 2024 due to 'litigation concerns'

A process of artificial insemination of an egg in an IVF clinic.
A process of artificial insemination of an egg in an IVF clinic. | iStock/Kalinovskiy

A hospital at the center of an Alabama Supreme Court ruling that declared embryos created through in vitro fertilization are protected under state law announced that it will no longer offer IVF by the end of the year due to concerns over litigation.  

In a news release last Wednesday, Mobile Infirmary stated that it had temporarily resumed providing IVF; however, due to “litigation concerns,” the hospital said it will no longer offer IVF after Dec. 31. 

Mobile Infirmary was the focus of two lawsuits from parents who lost their frozen embryos in 2020 after a patient reportedly walked through the doorway and dropped them. In February, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos are children and protected under the state’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act. 

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Associate Justice Jay Mitchell concluded in the majority opinion that the act, first enacted in 1872, "applies to all children, born and unborn, without limitation."

"All parties to these cases, like all members of this Court, agree that an unborn child is a genetically unique human being whose life begins at fertilization and ends at death," Mitchell wrote. 

"The question on which the parties disagree is whether there exists an unwritten exception to that rule for unborn children who are not physically located 'in utero' — that is, inside a biological uterus — at the time they are killed." 

Last month, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed Senate Bill 159, which declares that "no action, suit, or criminal prosecution for the damage to or death of an embryo shall be brought or maintained against any individual or entity when providing or receiving services related to in vitro fertilization." 

Pro-life advocates like Lila Rose, founder and president of Live Action, criticized SB 159. In a March 7 statement, Rose contended that the bill gives "blanket immunity to the unregulated and profit-driven IVF industry" and allows "abusive and destructive practices." 

"This law will have catastrophic consequences and withdraws existing legal protections for Alabama's most vulnerable persons simply because those persons were created through IVF," she said. "This law provides dangerous civil and criminal immunity for 'damage to or the death of an embryo' in the course of 'providing or receiving services related to in vitro fertilization.'"

Ivey's signing of the bill was perceived by some as an attempt to assuage the fears of multiple Democrats and some Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, who expressed concerns about the Alabama Supreme Court’s IVF ruling. 

The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network founder Jennifer Lahl, however, pushed back against the idea that the Alabama Supreme Court’s IVF ruling means that IVF "will be prohibited or greatly restricted.”

"The higher court's action was in response to the lower court's that rejected three couples' rights to file for 'wrongful death' of their frozen embryos that were inadvertently destroyed," Lahl said in a previous statement to The Christian Post. "The lower court said the Wrongful Death of a Minor law, which protected children born and the unborn the fetus in its mother's womb, did not extend that protection to the frozen human embryo." 

"IVF is not illegal in Alabama with this decision," she insisted. "If anything, IVF clinics will have to be more diligent in protecting frozen embryos."

While the process of IVF can provide some parents with a baby, many pro-life advocates oppose the practice because it can result in the deaths of unborn children, such as when excess embryos are discarded or fail to survive being frozen and thawed. 

Katy Faust, founder and president of Them Before Us, cited research in a statement to CP last month that suggests only 7% of lab-created embryos are born alive. The others either remain frozen or they might be donated to science. 

"Our hearts go out to couples struggling with infertility and those who experience same-sex attraction who may not be able to have a child without the help of a technician," Faust told CP.

"But no amount of adult struggle, loss, or longing justifies violating the rights of the child — specifically their primary right to life and right to be known and loved by both their mother and father."

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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