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IVF bills to appear in committee on Tuesday

On Thursday, the Alabama State Senate and House of Representatives both passed separate bills to protect in vitro fertilization (IVF) therapy civilly and criminally in the state. Both of those bills are expected to be voted on in Committee on Tuesday with hopes of passing one of them as early as Wednesday.

The bill will declare that IVF treatments have criminal and civil immunity for doctors and other medical professionals performing the IVF treatments.

This legislation became necessary after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled on February 16 that embryos produced in vitro in a laboratory have the same personhood protection and rights as a person who was created in utero through natural conception.

This ruling come with enormous ramifications for fertility clinics as the goal of IVF treatments is to produce 1 maybe 2 children at most. With most in vitro procedures multiple eggs are fertilized and then only the best of the litter are inserted into the woman who is trying to get pregnant. The other embryos are routinely discarded, used for biomedical research and experimentation, or stored in a freezer.

The Senate Sponsor Tim Melson (R-Florence) is a doctor. Melson told reporters that at this point the oldest frozen embryo taken out of storage and then implanted in a woman for a successful pregnancy was 30 years old.

Fertility clinics say that they need this legislation in order to resume operations. The women who are undergoing these treatments want this legislation to pass so that their IVF treatments can continue in the hopes of producing a viable pregnancy. Melson told reporters that these treatment often take over a year, which is why he removed the one year sunset on the substitute version of this legislation that the Senate adopted on Thursday.

House sponsor Terri Collins (R-Decatur) said that the legislature is working on a more permanent solution to this issue and that if they can't get an agreement during this session that it will be studied by a special study committee after the Legislature recesses.

"We will need to work together to continue to work on this problem," Collins said.

House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville) introduced a constitutional amendment to protect access to IVF treatments in the Alabama Constitution.

Melson told reporters that the constitutional amendment was not his preferred way of dealing with this issue.

"This bill would provide civil and criminal immunity for death or damage to an embryo to any individual or entity when providing or receiving goods or services related to in-vitro fertilization and this bill would provide for retroactive effect," Collins explained on the House floor.

HB237 will be considered by the Senate Health Committee at 11:00 a.m. in Room 304 of the Statehouse. Melson's bill SB159 will be considered by the House Health Committee at 11:30 a.m. in Room 206 of the Statehouse.

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