President Biden slams Alabama's "outrageous" ruling on IVF

Washington DC - President Joe Biden on Thursday slammed the Alabama Supreme Court's ruling that frozen embryos are children, a decision that has led IVF clinics in the state to halt operations because of their increased exposure to wrongful death lawsuits.

President Biden has spoken out against the Alabama Supreme Court's ruling that declared frozen embryos are considered children.
President Biden has spoken out against the Alabama Supreme Court's ruling that declared frozen embryos are considered children.  © Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP

Two clinics have issued statements announcing pauses, with reports of a third following suit.

"The disregard for women's ability to make these decisions for themselves and their families is outrageous and unacceptable," Biden said in a statement.

The pauses come days after an Alabama Supreme Court ruling in a lawsuit filed against a fertility clinic under the state's 1872 Wrongful Death of a Minor Act.

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The suit was filed by three couples whose frozen embryos were destroyed by a patient who "managed to wander into" a cryogenic nursery where they were stored and accidentally dropped several of them on the floor.

A lower court ruled the frozen embryos could not be considered a "person" or "child" and dismissed the wrongful death claim.

But the Alabama Supreme Court, in a 7-2 ruling last week, disagreed, saying "the Wrongful Death of a Minor Act applies on its face to all unborn children, without limitation."

"It applies to all children, born and unborn," Justice Jay Mitchell wrote in an opinion sprinkled with quotes from the Bible.

"The People of Alabama have declared the public policy of this State to be that unborn human life is sacred," Mitchell added, in a reference to the conservative state's near-total ban of abortion.

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Alabama is one of some two dozen states that have banned or restriction abortion access.
Alabama is one of some two dozen states that have banned or restriction abortion access.  © IMAGO / NurPhoto

The University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Center for Reproductive Medicine at Mobile Infirmary both quickly announced pauses to IVF procedures in the decision's wake, with a third, Alabama Fertility in Birmingham, reportedly following their lead.

Mark Nix, president and CEO of Infirmary Health, said: "The recent Alabama Supreme Court decision has sadly left us with no choice but to pause IVF treatments for patients. 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."

Alabama is one of some two dozen states that have banned or restricted abortion access following the Supreme Court's 2022 ruling overturning the constitutional right to the procedure.

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Experts say the ruling effectively granted states the final say on questions of personhood, paving the way for wide-reaching impacts on other areas of reproductive health, including in vitro fertilization.

"Make no mistake: this is a direct result of the overturning of Roe v. Wade," said Biden, referencing the legal case that previously protected abortion as a national right.

Democrats have made protecting abortion rights one of their signature issues heading into the 2024 election, where Biden faces a tough rematch against his likely Republican rival, former president Donald Trump.

Cover photo: Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP

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