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Thursday April 18, 2024

Alabama clinics pause IVF services after court rules 'embryos are children'

In-vitro fertilisation (IVF) is the process of creating embryos by mixing sperm and eggs

By Web Desk
February 23, 2024
representational image of an in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) procedure of mixing eggs and sperm in a tube. — RMany
representational image of an in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) procedure of mixing eggs and sperm in a tube. — RMany

Less than a week after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that embryos generated by in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) are children, three IVF clinics in the state have halted their operations while assessing the ruling's potential legal implications, NBC reported.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) was the first to announce the change on Wednesday followed by Alabama Fertility, who posted a statement announcing to pause their IVF treatments.

The Centre for Reproductive Medicine at Mobile Infirmary — the clinic sued in the court case, has also put a hold on its IVF procedures.

Mark Nix, CEO of Infirmary Health said: "We understand the burden this places on deserving families who want to bring babies into this world."

Hannah Echols, a spokesperson for UAB, said the health system will continue to offer egg retrieval but will no longer fertilise eggs or develop embryos.

IVF is the process of creating embryos in a lab by mixing sperm and eggs, and then implanting one or more of those embryos into a person's uterus. While extra embryos are commonly frozen and kept for later use, if an embryo has a genetic defect or is not needed by a patient, it is also often destroyed.

The court's decision has attracted a lot of criticism and questions. It came in response to a unique case in which an individual dropped many frozen embryos while walking into the unlocked storage area at Mobile Infirmary in Mobile, Alabama.

The court decided on February 16 that the clinic's failure to safeguard that storage space violated the state's Wrongful Death Conduct, which states that unjustifiable or negligent conduct that results in someone's death is a civil offence as the frozen embryos were considered human beings.