Alabama governor signs bill for IVF clinic immunity in deaths of human embryos — By: Catholic News Agency

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Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Mar 7, 2024 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, signed legislation that grants immunity to clinics when they “damage” or cause the “death” of human embryonic life in the process of providing in vitro fertilization (IVF) fertility treatments to women.

Although the deaths of human embryos are an integral part of the IVF industry, Ivey claimed in a statement that IVF works to foster a “culture of life.” Millions of preborn children have been killed or indefinitely frozen through the IVF process since the 1980s.

“Let me say clearly: Alabama supports growing families through IVF,” Ivey said after signing the legislation. “From protecting the unborn to supporting IVF, Alabama is proud we are a pro-life, pro-family state.”

IVF is a fertility treatment opposed by the Catholic Church because it separates the marriage act from procreation and destroys embryonic human life.

Acknowledging the advances in science available today to those seeking help having children, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops warns Catholics on its website of the ethical issues involved.

“The many techniques now used to overcome infertility also have profound moral implications, and couples should be aware of these before making decisions about their use,” the guidance reads.

The new law shields clinics from civil or criminal liability related to the damage or deaths of human embryos. It further prevents any criminal or civil action in relation to those deaths against any individual providing or receiving IVF services.

The law was effective immediately upon the governor’s signature on March 6. It also applies retroactively, meaning that the immunity applies to actions taken prior to the law going into effect.

Alabama lawmakers introduced the legislation late last month after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that human embryos are covered under the Wrongful Death of a Minor Act. The 8-1 decision ruled that the law covered “all children, born and unborn,” which had allowed couples to sue an IVF clinic following the unintentional deaths of human embryos in their care.

The lawmakers intended to bypass that court ruling to prevent such lawsuits through this legislation.

IVF is a fertility treatment in which doctors fuse sperm and eggs to create human embryos and then implant some of the embryos in the mother’s womb without a sexual act. Embryos that are intended to be implanted at a later date are frozen, but many remain frozen indefinitely. Human embryos that are undesired are routinely destroyed or used for scientific research, both of which kill the preborn children.

In 2019, Ivey received praise from pro-life organizations when she signed a pro-life bill to ban most abortions in the state. That law went into effect in June 2022 after the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

However, many of those same pro-life groups were not on her side when she signed the IVF bill into law. Thirteen pro-life organizations signed a letter that urged Ivey to veto the legislation. 

“If enacted, this sweeping legislation would slam the door on any protections for the most vulnerable Alabamians, prevent families from seeking justice for the death or harm caused to their children, and leave a trail of destructive, immoral implications in its wake,” the letter warned.

Democratic lawmakers voiced strong support for IVF procedures following the Alabama ruling, but a growing number of Republicans have joined them in recent weeks to promote IVF. 

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