The people's voice of reason

Democrats introduce state constitutional amendment stripping IVF embryos of personhood status

Unexpectedly, the Alabama Supreme Court decision declaring that an invitro fertilization child is a person and thus protected under Alabama has become the most vexing issue before the Legislature in the 2024 Alabama Regular Legislative Session/

Earlier this week, House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville) introduced legislation that would overturn that ruling in order to allow fertility clinics to continue to operate in the state of Alabama. Most closed just days after the February 23 ruling, because when your business is making people in petri dishes inevitably you are going to make more than you need. Those extras generally get frozen and implanted later – if their sibling failed to become the baby that that infertile couple so desires. Unfortunately for them, most will eventually be destroyed – which is legally problematic if life begins at conception and all the frozen embryos have the same legal protections of an embryo which began its life in utero (natural conception in the mother's body).

There are legal questions with that strategy. Baldwin County attorney Harry Still III told the Yellowhammer News that if the Alabama Constitution declares that life begins at conception and that has been affirmed by the Feb. 16 Supreme Court ruling then the Legislature likely cannot override that personhood with a bill. A state constitutional amendment takes precedence over an act of the Legislature legally.

Recognizing this potential legal issue, the Alabama House Democratic Caucus has introduced a Constitutional Amendment to override the previous constitutional amendment in order to protect IVF treatments in the state.

The Alabama House Democratic Caucus has unanimously co-sponsored a bill that was just introduced by Leader Daniels, HB240, that would amend the Alabama Constitution to define that an extrauterine embryo, fertilized or not, is not considered to be any form of personhood for any purpose under law.

Rep. Daniels previously introduced HB225 that would protect IVF treatment, but it is just an act of the legislature; thus is legally dubious at best if it is challenged in court.

Passing the constitutional amendment would make those IVF protections permanent. The amendment would still have to be ratified by the voters and the earliest that they could vote is in the November 5 general election meaning that IVF treatments would be barred through then. Democrats believe that by passing HB225 and then following that with HB240 – the amendment – that all of the legal impediments to resuming IVF treatments would effectively be addressed.

"This will bring clarity and stability to this issue of IVF fertility treatments," said Daniels in a statement. "Most importantly, this will return these personal medical decisions back to women and their doctors, instead of politicians who have absolutely no business making these personal decisions. At the end of the day, we must advocate for empowering women and that includes fighting for women's reproductive care and reproductive freedom."

Daniels is a candidate on the March 5 Democratic primary ballot for Congress in Alabama's recently redrawn Second Congressional District.

Wednesday will be day 11 of the 2024 Alabama Regular Legislative Session.

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