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Alabama Legislature advances law protecting in vitro fertilization

On Thursday, the Alabama Senate and House of Representatives passed a bill that would protect in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments in the state. One of those proposals was agreed to by both chambers of the Alabama Legislature as early as Wednesday and is expected to be signed by Gov. Kay Ivey.

The approach taken by Republican lawmakers would provide criminal and civil immunity to doctors and other medical professionals who perform IVF treatments. This timely initiative comes after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled on February 16 that embryos produced through in vitro fertilization legally constitute individuals under the Alabama Constitution. It was conducted.

Clinics across the state have suspended IVF services due to concerns about possible civil and criminal liability.

“This bill — its provisions only relate to in vitro fertilization,” State Sen. Tim Melson explained Thursday. Melson is a physician who practices in Alabama. It is now known that he, along with another physician lawmaker, State Sen. Larry Stutz (R-Tuscumbia), played a key role in efforts to protect members of Congress.

“They provide certain civil and criminal immunity, but this immunity does not apply to fetal injury or death. Therefore, we do not intend to provide coverage of them,” Melson said. he said. “Only with normal standard handling practices. They'll continue to be susceptible to it. If something happens, I'll call it malpractice. That doesn't cover them for it. there is no.”

“This bill has no expiration date,” Melson said. “We don’t want people to be afraid that they might have to interfere with the process or the process and have to stop again.”

RELATED: Reid and Ledbetter detail Alabama lawmaker's approach to IVF: 'Be very focused and get wise advice'

Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) blamed Republicans for creating this situation by passing a 2019 amendment banning abortion.

“This is one of those moments where I say you're doing too much,” Singleton said.

“You tried too hard to define what life is and tried too far beyond Roe v. Wade. It has nothing to do with us here in Alabama and needs to be addressed at the national level. All we had to do was stand and wait. Roe v. Wade was reversed. We still had the right for our states to do what they wanted. We wanted to make sure there was. Now we're sitting here praying for these mothers, these precious mothers, not knowing what's going to happen to their babies. Alabama's Best These are babies sitting somewhere in the freezer because the court said babies are life and they are babies now.”

Singleton suggested that under Alabama law, killing IVF embryos could be prosecuted.

Melson replied, “Under Alabama law, if it's not in the womb, it's not murder.''

Meanwhile, on Thursday, the Alabama House of Representatives also introduced safeguards for implementing and passing IVF. The House version of the bill was sponsored by state Rep. Terry Collins (R-Decatur).

“This is the agreed-upon bill to open the clinic and advance the process that women are already in,” said Representative Collins. “This bill would provide any person or entity with civil and criminal immunity for death or injury to an embryo when providing or receiving goods or services related to in vitro fertilization. It provides for retroactive effect.”

“This is about liability immunity,” Collins said. “That's not where we want to be. We're not going to do it long-term. To continue to address this problem, we need to work together. But right now, we're seeing more of the families who use the clinic. We wanted to open a clinic for. There is no sunset date.”

Four Democratic senators supported the bill, saying they wanted to overhaul Alabama's constitution and change the principle that life begins with the vision enshrined in it, agreed to by voters in a 2018 statewide referendum. Voted no.

RELATED: Alabama Republican lawmaker pushes solution to protect IVF services – Democrats push for character referendum

Rep. Juandalyn Givan (D-Birmingham) expressed concern about granting immunity to clinics.

“When I came here in 2010, which is almost 14 years ago, I noticed a trend here in the state Legislature, and every bill that was introduced in the last few years was going to someone in this state. It provided immunity,” Jivan said.

“I'm not in favor of giving doctors any kind of immunity. One of these women could die. They could die just trying to find a way to give life. The bill we're about to pass now gives doctors a pathway to commit the act as long as they practice best practices. That's a dangerous term in the medical field.”

Rep. Ernie Yarbrough (R-Trinity) argued that Congress should suspend IVF treatment in Alabama until it decides how to reopen clinics.

“My conscience is completely on fire regarding this matter,” Yarbrough said.

“I asked a visitor the other day, “What about the embryos?'' – Children – What's left? I was told that we need to be able to discard embryos that the parents don't want. Wearing a white coat Doctors told me they needed to be able to destroy embryos that appeared to have genetic problems, such as babies with Down syndrome or special needs. Do you want to point?”

Mr. Yarborough introduced amendments to the bill, which sparked extreme pro-life votes and became the subject of negative publicity against state legislators over the weekend.

Related: President Trump calls on Alabama lawmakers to ensure the use of IVF – 'strongly supports'

Some Republicans worried that efforts to restart the IVF process would have unintended consequences and legally jeopardize the state's abortion ban.

Rep. Jim Carnes (R-Vestavia Hills) said removing the sunset date provision of June 1, 2025 from the bill's initial version could “lock us into unintended consequences.” expressed concern.

“I think we all want to keep clinics open,” Kearns said. “We didn't realize this two weeks ago, and suddenly this is the biggest problem facing the state.”

“Alabama is probably one of the most pro-life states in the nation. Nothing stands in the way of our pro-life position and the fact that life begins at conception,” said Rep. Mark Gidley (R-Gadsden). Anything is not permissible. It is not just a moral principle. But it is also a Biblical principal.”

“I’m very concerned about us removing Sunset,” Guidry said. “Two weeks ago, none of us thought this would happen.”

“One of my main concerns is the fate of the unused embryos,” Guidry said. “I don't feel comfortable taking pictures of the sunset.”

Guidry wanted to add language to prevent unused embryos from being used in scientific and medical research.

“I think it's very important that there be some regulation for these facilities,” Guidry said. “If that fetus isn't alive, it won't grow. That's life.”

Related: Governor Kay Ivey: IVF 'nurturing a culture of life'

Givan and Moore voted “no,” along with Democratic allies Barbara Boyd (D-Anniston) and Patrick Sellers (D-Birmingham). Yarbrough and Sen. Ben Harrison (R-Elkmont) also voted “no.” Kearns, Guidry, and Philip Rigsby (R-Huntsville) voted to abstain.

HB237 passed the House 94-6 and now heads to the Senate, which also passed its own version on Thursday.

Alabama House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) said Friday that Congress will continue to allow fertility clinics to operate in the state.

Chairman Ledbetter said in a statement: “Although Alabamians believe strongly in protecting the rights of unborn children, the outcome of the state Supreme Court's decision, which denies many couples the opportunity to conceive, is a direct contradiction. ”.

“The Legislature will soon consider a solution that upholds Alabama’s values ​​by allowing IVF clinics to continue helping couples bring new lives into the world.”

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