2 More Alabama Fertility Clinics Pause IVF After Court’s Chilling Ruling

Three fertility clinics suspending IVF services within days of the state Supreme Court’s ruling could mark just the beginning of widespread clinic closures.

2 More Alabama Fertility Clinics Pause IVF After Court’s Chilling Ruling

On Wednesday, a fertility clinic in Alabama announced they were suspending their IVF services due to the state Supreme Court’s recent ruling that frozen embryos are “extrauterine children.” A spokesperson for the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility said that UAB is “saddened” for their patients who struggle with infertility. Now, two more Alabama clinics have paused their IVF services.

Friday’s ruling came after three couples sued the Center for Reproductive Medicine and Mobile Infirmary Medical Center for wrongful death after another patient accidentally dropped and destroyed their embryos. On Friday, the state Supreme Court determined that the couples’ wrongful death suit could move forward, prompting Mobile Infirmary to announce on Thursday that it will suspend IVF services, per CNNAlabama Fertility’s Birmingham-based clinic also announced on Thursday it will be suspending services “for at least a day or two.”

Mark Nix, the CEO of Infirmary Health, said the state Supreme Court ruling “has sadly left us with no choice but to pause IVF treatments for patients.” Nix continued, “We understand the burden this places on deserving families who want to bring babies into this world and who have no alternative options for conceiving.” Similarly, UAB’s spokesperson said on Wednesday that the clinic is pausing IVF services to “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.” In a statement to Jezebel, the spokesperson said they wanted to reiterate that while IVF is paused, “everything through egg retrieval remains in place.”

As Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern points out, Alabama has effectively outlawed IVF, or they’ve at least laid the grounds to make IVF treatment vastly less accessible. IVF requires the routine destruction of unused embryos, meaning fertility clinics could be liable for costly wrongful death suits that could bankrupt them if they continue IVF services. Back in September, the Medical Association of the State of Alabama warned in a brief filed to the state Supreme Court that if they were to rule that embryos are “children” it could “substantially increase the costs associated with IVF” due to the increased risk of lawsuits. 

The group also cautioned that such a ruling could result in widespread closure of IVF clinics in the state. In other words, three fertility clinics suspending IVF services within days of the state Supreme Court’s ruling could mark just the beginning—for Alabama and states across the country. Barbara Collura, CEO of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, told Jezebel the Alabama ruling will have “profound implications far beyond Alabama’s borders.” An anti-abortion group in Florida is already challenging an abortion rights measure in the state by directly citing the Alabama Supreme Court decision.

Meanwhile, the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, which has offered zero guidance on when the destruction of an embryo would actually be considered a crime, told CNN that they “have not been involved [in the case] at all.” Helpful! On Thursday, President Biden released a statement calling these outcomes a “direct result of the overturning of Roe v. Wade.”

“[A] court in Alabama put access to some fertility treatments at risk for families who are desperately trying to get pregnant. The disregard for women’s ability to make these decisions for themselves and their families is outrageous and unacceptable,” Biden said. The statement notably doesn’t detail any steps that will be taken to restore access to IVF or otherwise get into specifics—only that Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris “won’t stop until we restore the protections of Roe v. Wade in federal law for all women in every state.” That is… not super reassuring.

While we’re seeing the court’s ruling have the biggest impact on IVF, there’s even more at stake now that a legal body has declared that embryos are children—a definition that’s directly at odds with pregnant people’s most basic rights. Pregnancy Justice Deputy Director Dana Sussman told Jezebel the ruling is “an expansion of what it means for life to begin at conception that will be weaponized against providers [and] ex-partners,” and “to control and criminalize pregnant people.”

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin