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Alabama Hospital Halts IVF Treatments As US Supreme Court Rules That Embryos Are Children



In a landmark ruling, the Alabama Supreme Court has declared that frozen embryos are to be considered as children, setting a precedent that has triggered concerns in the field of reproductive medicine in the United States.

The decision has prompted the largest hospital in the southern state to suspend its in-vitro fertilization (IVF) services, fearing potential criminal liability for inadvertently destroying embryos.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham health system clarified that while they would continue retrieving eggs from women’s ovaries, the next step involving fertilization and implantation would be halted.

The hospital said in a statement, “We are saddened that this will impact our patients’ attempt to have a baby through IVF, but we must evaluate the potential that our patients and our physicians could be prosecuted criminally or face punitive damages for following the standard of care for IVF treatments.”


The ruling emerged from a wrongful death lawsuit filed by three couples whose embryos were lost at a fertility clinic in 2020. The incident occurred when a patient accidentally dropped and destroyed the embryos after wandering into the storage area.

Medical experts and reproductive advocacy groups have raised concerns about the potential negative consequences for fertility treatments not only in Alabama but also across the nation. Conservative groups, however, welcomed the decision, asserting that even the smallest embryos deserved legal protection.

While the ruling does not outright ban or restrict IVF, it introduces uncertainty about the legal status of certain aspects of the procedure in Alabama. Questions may arise regarding the use and storage of embryos if they are legally considered persons.

The Alabama Supreme Court’s decision, which categorized frozen embryos as “children,” has sparked debates over the legal implications for IVF. Chief Justice Tom Parker, concurring with the majority opinion, emphasized the sanctity of life, stating, “Even before birth, all human beings have the image of God, and their lives cannot be destroyed without effacing his glory.”

Reproductive rights advocates, such as Elisabeth Smith from the Centre for Reproductive Rights, warned of potential disastrous consequences, stating, “To enact legislation granting legal personhood to embryos could have disastrous consequences for the use of IVF – a science many people rely on to build their families.”


The Medical Association of the State of Alabama highlighted the broader societal impact, stating, “The significance of this decision impacts all Alabamians and will likely lead to fewer babies – children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins – as fertility options become limited for those who want to have a family.”

Ozioma Samuel-Ugwuezi

Source link: Arise News/

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