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House passes IVF bill, debates consistency with state’s fetal personhood stance

After three hours of debate, only six members of the Alabama House of Representatives voted against a stopgap bill that would have reopened IVF clinics in the state.

HB237, by state Rep. Terry Collins (R-Decatur), passed the Senate on Thursday alongside a companion bill from Sen. Tim Melson (R-Florence) and is headed for final passage in the Assembly on Wednesday. A vote was scheduled to take place. The bill provides broad immunity for IVF clinics and patients from criminal and civil liability.

The bill ultimately received bipartisan support, but the opposition also crossed party lines.

State Rep. Ernie Yarbrough (R-Trinity) said in the decision that the Alabama Supreme Court “may have exposed a silent holocaust that is going on in our state.”

“We have an obligation to sit down and seek God's face while pausing something that could potentially be destructive to our children that we were perhaps unaware of,” Yarbrough said. . “There's a path forward and there are options we can pursue. But if we go through with this and maybe put a moratorium on IVF and sit through the moratorium, we're not signing the death warrant for the children of Alabama.” We don't really have to do our job to make sure there isn't.”

Yarbrough proposed an amendment to the bill that would have held IVF clinics liable for the “intentional death of a fetus,” but Collins said he would not allow it on the floor as Congress tries to force passage of the bill. He said he does not support changes to the bill. as soon as possible.

Collins rejected several other amendments proposed during the debate, telling lawmakers that some ideas could be discussed when they go to the Senate, where his colleagues voted down the amendments.

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Four Democrats voted against the bill, several of whom said on the floor that this was because the bill did not address the issue. Rep. AJ McCampbell (D-Ga.), who ultimately voted in favor of the bill, said it was “like putting a Band-Aid on a bazooka wound.”

Rep. Mary Moore (D-Montgomery) ultimately voted against the bill, saying on the floor that instead of avoiding the issue, Congress needs to reconsider the question of when life begins. Ta. Rep. Jaundalyn Givhan, D-Birmingham, voted against the bill, saying on the floor that she could not agree to give so many immunizations to doctors out of concern for patients.

Only two Republicans voted against the bill outright, but three more abstained, and all three expressed their concerns and moral ambivalence on the floor.

“We're almost playing an expedient here because of the urgency of what needs to be done,” said Rep. Mark Gidley, R-Glencoe, who abstained from voting. “It's very dangerous…I completely believe that there are people who are trying to use this to move us away from a pro-life position. This is very concerning to me,” he said. In my opinion, that could never happen.”

One of the councilors on the phone in the hallway was heard saying, “We're going to be punished for this.”

Guidry said he would like to see language added to the bill to ensure that embryos produced through in vitro fertilization can only be used for reproductive purposes and not for research, and Collins said the bill will take shape in the Senate. He said there may be a discussion about including that language in due course.

Republican Rep. Arnold Mooney of Indian Springs, who abstained from voting, said the issue was “the kind of thing that is extremely difficult and heartbreaking to deal with.”

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“To say I'm a conflicted person about this is just being completely honest,” Mooney said. “I don't know the right answer to where we are.”

The provision to repeal the law within a year is a response to concerns that some lawmakers say the IVF process is so long that they won't have any real protection if the exemption period expires. expressed concern that it had been removed.

A lawmaker went into the press room and called his local IVF clinic to find out if it was still open and how this situation was affecting him, and the clinic He said he is likely to be under surveillance for some time.

Rep. Ben Harrison (R-Limestone County) joined Yarbrough in voting against the bill, saying the bill “requires this group to have immunity for murder.”

Collins said the law is a short-term solution to get IVF clinics back up and running, and IVF agencies should follow up immediately to find a long-term solution. Some lawmakers have proposed creating a special committee on the issue, but Collins suggested Congress could start working on a long-term solution as early as next week.

The bill now moves to a Senate committee for consideration.

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