Pro-lifers oppose Alabama law giving immunity for destuction of IVF embryos: 'License to kill'

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

Pro-life activists have voiced opposition to Alabama Republican Gov. Kay Ivey's approval of a bill they believe provides doctors and others a "license to kill" embryos created during in vitro fertilization, saying it will lead to thousands of deaths.

Ivey signed Senate Bill 159 on Wednesday, 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."

While primarily directed at doctors who perform in vitro fertilization, the measure exempts "the manufacturer of goods used to facilitate the in vitro fertilization process or the transport of stored embryos" from criminal prosecution. The bill passed the Republican-controlled Alabama Senate with a unanimous voice vote and the Republican-controlled Alabama House of Representatives with an 81-10 voice vote.

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The legislation comes in response to the Alabama Supreme Court's Feb. 16 ruling asserting that frozen embryos created through in vitro fertilization are protected under the state's Wrongful Death of a Minor Act. 

Democrats and prominent Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, expressed concerns about the decision's impact on the controversial practice of in vitro fertilization.

While the Alabama legislation attempted to assuage such concerns, Lila Rose, president and founder of the prominent pro-life activist organization Live Action, said in a statement that Senate Bill 159 "gives IVF docs a license to kill." She contends 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.'"

She said the legislation allows for the "complete legal permission to destroy, by accident or intention, embryonic children created through IVF," even if it's "against the wishes of the parents."

Rose maintains the new legislation violates the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law for all persons.

"This new Alabama law denies equal protection to preborn persons created through IVF, because it withdraws the protections of civil and criminal law that exist for born persons or preborn persons in the womb," she added. "In Alabama, children created through IVF are no longer protected equally under the law."

Rose argues Senate Bill 159 violates the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, which states that "medical science has increasingly recognized the humanity of the unborn child." She expressed concern that "this law giving the IVF industry the unfettered immunity to destroy countless unborn children, brazenly ignores the science that conclusively recognizes their humanity."

Rose further claimed the law violates the Alabama constitution, which "acknowledges, declares, and affirms that it is the public policy of this state to recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, including the right to life."

The Alabama constitution "further acknowledges, declares, and affirms that it is the public policy of this state to ensure the protection of the rights of the unborn child in all manners and measures lawful and appropriate."

"Politicians cannot call themselves pro-life, affirm the truth that human life begins at the moment of fertilization, and then enact laws that allow the callous killing of these preborn children simply because they were created through IVF," she added. "American law must reconsider its approach to IVF. Infertility can be an incredibly painful burden and is increasingly common."

Stressing that "the solution cannot be to deny legal protections to human embryos or to allow them to be frozen or killed at will in America's IVF industry," Rose declared, "This law is not pro-life."

"[T]his law disrespects human life and strips human beings of their dignity," she stated, predicting "this law will result in thousands of dead human beings."

Mat Staver, founder and chairman of the conservative Christian legal group Liberty Counsel, released a statement Friday claiming "the Republican-led legislature missed the mark with this knee-jerk reaction."

"[I]t is too bad legislators are moved more by political winds than in science and in the fundamental issues involving human life," he said. 

"Every human life begins as an embryo and has incalculable worth. Yet this law presents a double standard treating IVF embryos differently by removing their legal protections. The Alabama Supreme Court held that every unborn life, no matter their stage or location, is a child. As such, children who are in the frozen IVF embryo phase deserve the exact same dignity and protection as all children."

Staver called on the Alabama legislature to "revisit this issue immediately and take a more reasoned and scientific approach that proscribes how human life must be treated in the context of IVF."

In vitro fertilization has become a hot-button issue after the Alabama Supreme Court ruling. 

Calls for legislation protecting in vitro fertilization extend beyond Alabama. During his State of the Union address Thursday, President Joe Biden maintained that "the Alabama Supreme Court shut down IVF treatments across the state." He called on the U.S. Congress to "guarantee the right to IVF" nationwide. 

The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network founder Jennifer Lahl pushed back on the conclusion reached by Republican and Democrat politicians alike that the Alabama Supreme Court ruling meant that IVF "will be prohibited or greatly restricted."

Lahl said in a statement to The Christian Post last month that "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." 

"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." 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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