Enlarge / The Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery, Alabama, on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. (credit: Getty | Andi Rice)

Alabama lawmakers on Wednesday hastily passed a bill to provide some civil and criminal immunity to patients and health care providers using in vitro fertilization. The bill, signed into law by Governor Kay Ivey within the hour of its passing, comes into play in the event that embryos—which were recently ruled to be “children” by the state’s Supreme Court—are damaged or destroyed, a standard and common occurrence in fertility treatment.

The new protections are intended to restore IVF treatment in Alabama after the state Supreme Court’s ruling last month led at least three major IVF providers and one embryo shipping company to suddenly halt aspects of their work in fear of liability for wrongful death lawsuits. People going through the arduous and costly process of IVF were then abruptly denied the very time-sensitive treatments needed to try to grow their families. The ruling drew outcry from around the state and across the nation.

IVF is a type of assisted reproductive technology that involves fertilizing painstakingly harvested eggs with sperm in a lab setting, allowing the fertilized eggs to develop into embryos, and then either transferring a limited number of them into a uterus at a key time in hopes of implantation or freezing them for later use. Not all fertilized eggs develop into viable embryos, and any embryos that are unviable or unneeded are routinely discarded.

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