Alabama governor signs IVF bill to give doctors ‘dangerous’ civil and criminal immunity

IVF, embryo, embryos

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill into law on Wednesday that gives civil and criminal immunity to in vitro fertilization doctors should they damage or destroy embryos, even without parental consent.

The new law came quickly on the heels of a legal case regarding embryos that were destroyed when a client managed to access the storage area of a fertility clinic. The parents of those embryos sued the fertility clinic under the state’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act and the Alabama Supreme Court ruled in favor of the parents. That decision — that frozen embryos must be considered children under the state’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act — set off a media frenzy of inaccurate reports claiming that IVF treatments were at risk. Several fertility clinics stopped practicing IVF out of fear of a similar lawsuit should they destroy any embryos. Other IVF facilities remained open and active but decided to stop destroying embryos that had been created in their facilities — a small pro-life win at the time.

SB 159, “Relating to in vitro fertilization; to provide civil and criminal immunity for death or damage to an embryo…” states that “no action, suit, or criminal prosecution for the damage to or death of an embryo shall be brought or maintained against any individual or entity when providing or receiving goods or services related to in vitro fertilization.” The law states that it applies “retroactively to any act, omission, or course of services which are not the subject of litigation on the effective date of this act.”

Under the law, “manufacturers of goods used to facilitate the in vitro process” or the “transport of stored embryos” are also provided with criminal immunity.

Interestingly, the law admits that the destruction of embryos is equivalent to the “death” of those embryos, which means, that legislators admit human embryos are alive before they are destroyed.

State Sen. Larry Stutts, the only senator who voted against the new law, criticized the language of the bill, arguing it is “not an IVF protection bill, it’s an IVF provider and supplier protection bill” that is “limiting the ability of the mothers that are involved in IVF to have recourse.” The Alabama Supreme Court ruling had been in favor of the parents whose embryos were destroyed. This law makes it difficult for other parents to file similar lawsuits.

Live Action president and founder Lila Rose responded to the news in a press release, noting:

This law will have catastrophic consequences and withdraws existing legal protections for Alabama’s most vulnerable persons simply because those persons were created through IVF. This law provides dangerous civil and criminal immunity for “damage to or the death of an embryo” in the course of “providing or receiving services related to in vitro fertilization.” That means complete legal permission to destroy, by accident or intention, embryonic children created through IVF—even against the wishes of the parents. 

Stripping embryonic human beings of legal protections is also unconstitutional. This law violates the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which mandates that no state shall deny to any person the equal protection of the laws….

This new law also violates the Alabama Constitution, which states that Alabama “acknowledges, declares, and affirms that it is the public policy of this state to recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, including the right to life. This state further acknowledges, declares, and affirms that it is the public policy of this state to ensure the protection of the rights of the unborn child in all manners and measures lawful and appropriate.”

Rose additionally noted that this law is not pro-life: “Politicians cannot call themselves pro-life, affirm the truth that human life begins at the moment of fertilization, and then enact laws that allow the callous killing of these preborn children simply because they were created through IVF.”

Senator Tammy Duckworth, who proposed a national IVF protection bill that was blocked last week, called the situation a “crisis” and claimed that “an embryo is not a human being.” It’s the same denial of scientific fact that fuels legalized abortion. Basic biology reveals that the life of a new, distinct human organism begins at fertilization when the parents’ gametes fuse.

Science advisor David Prentice, Ph D, an internationally-recognized expert on stem cell research and bioethics, told Live Action News that the claim that an embryo with two human parents is not a human being “is an assertion not based on science but on… ideology.” He added that the embryo is also clearly alive, because “… when thawed, the embryo continues its growth and development, picks up where it left off, and when implanted into the uterine lining can gestate. Molecular motion is not completely stopped but is slowed to infinitesimal rates,” noting embryos are frozen when they have about 100-150 cells. “… The process doesn’t work for a newborn, or even a whole organ” simply because “there are too many cells to try to cryopreserve and will be too much damage from thawing,” but that doesn’t mean the embryo is not a living human being.

Research shows that the process of IVF destroys embryos at a higher rate than abortion. IVF is carried out 2.5 million times annually around the world, but each year only 500,000 babies are born from the IVF procedure, according to research published in Reproductive Biomedicine Online. This means that each year, if just one embryo is created during each IVF cycle (the average is seven), at least 80% — about two million — of the human beings created through IVF either die during the process, are frozen indefinitely, or are destroyed.

According to the World Health Organization, there are 73 million induced abortions each year around the world and 29% of all pregnancies end in induced abortion. This means that when comparing rates — human beings are being destroyed by IVF at a higher rate than they are by induced abortion.

It can not go both ways with pro-life laws and politicians. They cannot say killing a human embryo through abortion is wrong but killing a human embryo through the process of IVF is acceptable. Preborn humans, either in the womb or in an IVF clinic, are equally and intrinsically valuable.

The DOJ put a pro-life grandmother in jail for protesting the killing of preborn children. Please take 30-seconds to TELL CONGRESS: STOP THE DOJ FROM TARGETING PRO-LIFE AMERICANS.

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