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What Alabama’s far-right ruling on IVF treatment *actually* means for patients.

Doctor meets with a patient and points at information on a computer

When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, conservatives across the country wasted no time pushing extreme abortion restrictions. Now, they have their sights set on another target: in-vitro fertilization (IVF). And a new court ruling in Alabama could have devastating consequences for patients seeking this common fertility treatment. 

What happened in Alabama?

In 2020, patients of a fertility clinic in Mobile, Alabama, sued the clinic after an accident caused some frozen embryos–fertilized eggs preserved in liquid nitrogen–to be destroyed. Their accusation? That the clinic had caused the “wrongful death of a minor.”

This year, unbelievably, the Alabama Supreme Court–all of whom are Republicans–agreed. They ruled that, yes, frozen embryos could be considered “extrauterine children.”

You read that right. The Alabama Supreme Court decided that frozen embryos are children.

What does this mean for patients and providers?

Of the approximately 4 million babies born in the United States every year, 1-2% are conceived via IVF. It’s a tried and tested procedure with a high success rate that many hopeful parents rely on to grow their families. But now, all of that could change. 

In response to the ruling, several clinics in Alabama have already paused IVF treatments, fearing criminal prosecution. Even when providers and technicians do everything right, only about 55% of fertilized eggs in IVF labs “survive.” That’s just one of the challenges of reproduction, no matter how a person conceives. In fact, eggs fertilized inside the body have an even smaller chance of implanting and growing.
But that didn’t stop the Alabama Supreme Court from deciding that fertilized eggs qualify as children under the law. Fertilized eggs that, more often than not, will not grow into a baby, even under perfect conditions.

As a result, Alabama patients could have a much harder time finding a doctor who will take on the legal risks of providing IVF treatment.

Conservatives won’t stop at IVF

This ruling is terrifying for anyone who is pregnant or hopes to become pregnant. If the ultra-conservative Alabama Supreme Court believes that fertility clinics can be held liable for the loss of a frozen embryo, what happens to parents who, through no fault of their own, experience the trauma of pregnancy loss?

Believe it or not, expectant parents who miscarry are already at risk of facing criminal charges. The advocacy organization Pregnancy Justice has identified over 1300 criminal cases in the United States related to pregnancy loss. Some involved complications with a home birth. Some involved accidental injury. In some cases, the cause of the loss remains undetermined. In all cases, the risk of prosecution is disproportionately higher for women of color.

Let’s call this ruling in Alabama what it is. It’s another move by conservatives to give their radical, far-right leaders more license to control what we do with our bodies and to criminalize doctors and patients whenever it suits their backward agenda.

We see right through it, and we’ve had enough.

Meanwhile, in Minnesota…

Here in Minnesota, our progressive leaders have taken major steps to protect our access to reproductive health care.

Our right to safe, legal abortion is protected by a Minnesota Supreme Court decision and was codified into law by progressives in the Minnesota Legislature. The Reproductive Freedom Defense Act also protects out-of-state patients who come to Minnesota to seek care. Now, progressives in the Minnesota Legislature are advocating for IVF and other forms of fertility treatment to be covered by health insurance.

That’s because progressives understand that building a better Minnesota means empowering doctors and patients to make the best possible health care decisions together. 

We’ve made huge strides, but conservatives are still hard at work trying to undo them.

Will you chip in $5 today to help us fight back against far-right extremism?

Together, we’ll work to make Minnesota the best state for patients, no matter where they come from.

Join Us.