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IVF in Alamaba: Alabama Supreme Court decision implications

Learn about the recent decision of the Alabama Supreme Court about embryos being considered children and its implications.

March 1, 2024

On February 16th, 2024, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that recognizes embryos as human beings. How does this ruling come into place? The couple that filed the original lawsuit was seeking justice for their embryos being destroyed because of inappropriate safety measures that existed in the clinic. These terrible circumstances and due concern and outrage of the intended parents are absolutely understandable. Unfortunately, the case has been used to support an already existing agenda and the fear that most of the patients and providers expressed after Roe v. Wade was overturned - that the negative regulation regarding IVF and eggs is coming.

The ruling has far-reaching consequences for providers and patients not only in Alabama but in other states, as it may become a precedent for similar decisions being made.

For Providers:

Declaring embryos children leads to higher liability and potential criminal charges for “wrongful death” for providers offering the service in the state. Some of the clinics in the region have already started reacting to the decision by shutting down their IVF operations - like the largest Alabama Health System - the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). More clinics may close their doors or stop offering IVF there because of potential legal liability. Those who stay may increase the pricing, as they may be subject to higher insurance charges and higher costs to store embryos that they can no longer be disposed of.

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There is also a lot of uncertainty around embryo transfers. Less than 50% of embryo transfers result in pregnancy, with the new ruling raising the question of miscarriage after the transfer brings criminal liability upon doctors and patients.

For Patients:

Usually, at the beginning of the treatment, intended parents sign documents deciding what will happen with unused embryos they have in storage. The new ruling may overturn these agreements, making intended parents liable for the embryos in storage and limiting their right to decide how to use them. The access and affordability of IVF treatments in the state may be limited, as the providers can either raise the price or shut down the service. 

Our hearts hurt for the patients and families impacted. If you are worried about the risks of going through the treatment in Alabama or are afraid for the future of your stored embryos, you can find fertility centers with lower costs of IVF and higher quality in our database to undergo your IVF or move your embryos to. If you need any help or support, book a call with our fertility advisors, and we will do everything to help.

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