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House passes and Governor signs in vitro fertilization immunity bill

On Wednesday the Alabama House of Representatives passed legislation that will resolve potential civil and criminal liability issues for fertility clinics that provide in vitro services to families.

Senate Bill 159 was introduced by Sen. Tim Melson (R-Florence). It was carried in the House of of Representatives by Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur).

"We discussed the in vitro fertilization bill extensively last week," said Rep. Collins.

The bill provides civil and criminal immunity for medical practitioners, the manufacturers, and the patients engaged in the normal practice of IVF treatments.

The bill was substituted to provide immunity to the manufacturer of IVF goods and materials.

"Damages would be limited to compensatory," Collins explained.

Rep. Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa), "I am going to be honest with you. I 100% support IVF treatment but this is a bad piece of legislation."

"What we are trying to do is to play lawsuit whack-a-mole," said England. "Our legislation here provides a clear pathway for doctors in those practices to destroy embryos and we have an amendment in our constitution that says we can't do that."

"It is hard for me to imagine that there are entities outside of us powerful enough to threaten us where we would pass a bill for them to give them to destroy embryos," said England.

"There are occasions I think in the process that that does happen; but that is how the families that we met last week, many of them, including some in this room are able to have children," said Collins. "I do agree that we are creating a broad immunity. I do with you think that we can work together to find a fairer solution. It is our best solution that we have now for the families that are in the middle of that process to continue their process."

"Thank you for your hard work on this," said Rep. Corlee Ellis (R-Columbiana). "This is a good pro-family bill and you have put a lot of hard work into this."

The legislation passed the House 81 to 10. 12 members abstained.

"These kinds of procedures are very important for helping people start a family," said Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Reed (R-Jasper). "What we have done with this legislation is starting a pathway for them to start again."

This issue came up when the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that killing an IVF embryo before it is planted carries the same civil liability as

"When the issue came up the Supreme Court went back to a law in 1870 to rule sent it back to us," said Sen. Reed.

Sen. Larry Stutts (R-Lineville) objected to concurring on the bill. Stutts said that the bill sets the liability far too low and that the fertility clinics forced the Legislature's hand.

"We didn't have to stop IVF," said Stutts. "We could have dealt with this in a better way."

"We are proud of what we passed in 2019 that life begins at conception," said Stutts. "You are fixing to place a dollar value on preborn life,"

The Senate voted to concur on a 29 to 1 vote.

Late on Thursday night Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed SB159 into law.

Gov. Ivey said that the IVF protections legislation received overwhelming support from the Alabama Legislature and that she is grateful to the Legislature for swiftly bringing forward this stop-gap measure so fertility clinics, that previously chose to close out of an abundance of caution, can reopen.

"The overwhelming support of SB159 from the Alabama Legislature proves what we have been saying: Alabama works to foster a culture of life, and that certainly includes IVF," saod Gov. Ivey. "I am pleased to sign this important, short-term measure into law so that couples in Alabama hoping and praying to be parents can grow their families through IVF. IVF is a complex issue, no doubt, and I anticipate there will be more work to come, but right now, I am confident that this legislation will provide the assurances our IVF clinics need and will lead them to resume services immediately."

I commend Senator Tim Melson, Representative Terri Collins, President Pro Tem Greg Reed and Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter, as well as the members of the Legislature for quickly tackling an issue we did not anticipate when we started this session," continued Gov. Ivey. "

"Make no mistake about it, though, in the coming days, weeks and months, particularly as we are in the heat of a national election, we will hear a lot of political rhetoric around IVF. Let me say clearly: Alabama supports growing families through IVF. From protecting the unborn to supporting IVF, Alabama is proud we are a pro-life, pro-family state."

Following the signing of SB159 by the Governor, Speaker of the House Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) released a statement.

"Two weeks ago, the future of IVF in the state of Alabama was in danger," said Ledbetter. "Five legislative days have passed since the Alabama Supreme Court Ruling, and a bill granting our IVF clinics immunity has now been signed into law by Governor Kay Ivey. In Alabama, we recognize that IVF plays a crucial role in our commitment to fostering a culture of life, and I couldn't be prouder of how the House and Senate came together and passed a pro-life bill for the people of Alabama."

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