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Alabama Governor Kay Ivey.


The election-year political scramble over IVF

Alabama’s state supreme court ignited a political firestorm last month when it ruled that frozen embryos are “children” with a constitutional right to life. That announcement forced many in vitro fertilization clinics to close their doors to avoid legal risk, leaving Republican lawmakers scrambling to catch up with an issue that even voters who favor abortion restrictions are concerned about.
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Press conference on the Alabama Supreme Court Ruling on IVF, and the need to safeguard IVF access nationwide, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC.

Rod Lamkey/REUTERS

What does Alabama’s embryo ruling have to do with Canada?

Barely a week after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos are “extrauterine children,” putting the future of in vitro fertilization (IVF) at risk throughout the state and, potentially, other parts of the nation, there are concerns the decision’s effects will creep north into Canada.

This week, the Alabama State Senate and House introduced bills moved to protect IVF providers as the state faced immediate backlash for the ruling. The court decision was a major win for anti-choice activists, which also has Canadians worried.

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Alabama Governor Kay Ivey

REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage

Republicans rally to protect IVF

After Alabama’s Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos should be legally considered children this week, lawmakers are scrambling to pass legislation to protect in vitro fertilization.

The ruling only applies to the three families who brought the initial lawsuit, but its wording has many medical professionals worried it could be used against them. Three major fertility clinics halted IVF treatments in the state this week.

While all of Alabama’s Supreme Court justices are Republican, many politicians in their party are trying to distance themselves from the ruling and take action to counteract it. Republican legislators, who have a super-majority in Alabama, are considering introducing a bill to protect the treatment. Donald Trump has condemned the ruling and is urging Alabama’s GOP to protect IVF.

Does this mean the GOP is pro-choice now? No, we wouldn’t go that far.

The Alabama ruling has highlighted the schism among Republicans who believe life begins at conception and those who want to protect reproductive services. Republicans are also realizing that reproductive restrictions rally Democrats, and extreme positions like this one are gifts to their opponents ahead of the 2024 election.

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