GOP Governor Signs Bill Protecting IVF

Governor Kay Ivey on March 6 signed into law a bill granting immunity from criminal and civil liability to IVF providers in Alabama, quickly putting to rest the controversy spurred by the Alabama Supreme Court’s February decision allowing three couples to sue an IVF provider for wrongful death, CBS News reported.

In late February, the state Supreme Court determined that the frozen embryos belonging to the three couples could be considered “unborn children” and therefore the couples could sue the IVF facility for wrongful death after their embryos were destroyed in a storage accident.

In its ruling, the state high court said the Alabama constitution protected the unborn regardless of their “physical location” or “development stage.”

The court’s decision prompted several IVF facilities to pause services and sent a shockwave through the country.

The Republican-controlled Alabama legislature acted swiftly to address the controversy with both the state House and state Senate passing legislation in late February granting IVF providers immunity against criminal and civil liability.

In early March, both chambers agreed to take up the Senate version of the bill, with both passing the legislation on March 6.

Governor Ivey quickly signed the measure into law, saying the overwhelming support for the legislation in both the Senate and House reaffirmed that the state worked “to foster a culture of life,” including through in vitro fertilization.

Under the law, no lawsuits or criminal prosecution can be brought against IVF providers “for the damage to or death of an embryo.” The law offers immunity retroactively with an exception for litigation that is already pending in court.

While the law protects IVF providers from liability, it still allows civil lawsuits against the manufacturers of the supplies used in IVF treatment. At the same time, the law caps damages in such civil cases while preventing criminal liability.

Republican state Senator Tim Melson, a physician who sponsored the Senate bill, said he was “elated” that the women whose treatment had been put on hold due to the Alabama Supreme Court ruling could now get “back on schedule.”