Alan Cai

February 23, 2024

In vitro(in-glass) fertilization, abbreviated as IVF, is a method of assisted human reproduction in which conception occurs outside of the body, and embryos which form originate outside the body are implanted back in. The specifics of the medical procedure are beyond the scope of this article.

The Alabama Supreme Court recently ruled in a case that involved three families that fertilized embryos outside of the womb are considered unborn children and therefore subject to certain legal protections against their destruction. The 8-1 decision from the all-Republican-appointed justice panel is part of an ongoing trend of conservative efforts to push a stricter interpretation of the definition of life as it pertains to issues such as abortion and occasionally contraception.

This is practically problematic for many medical clinics offering in vitro fertilization services because procedures often involve many embryos and unused embryos must be disposed of. Under the new ruling, many clinics will find the popular process unfeasible.

IVF is a popular choice for couples experiencing infertility and experiences overwhelming support among the general American public. The court’s decision to effectively illegalize in vitro fertilization is already drawing significant public backlash. Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall has announced that his office will not be prosecuting clinics or families using the procedure.

In response to the controversial ruling, many Republicans, who up until now been generally in favor of a liberally defined life doctrine, have walked back their stances in favor of families choosing to puruse in vitro options. Former president Donald Trump has issued a statement in support of families using in vitro fertilization and has called on Alabama to increase protections for families. His remaining primary opponent Nikki Haley seemingly agreed with the ruling by stating that embryos are considered children before hastily walking back her statements and voicing disagreement. Similarly, Alabama senator Tommy Tuberville, who famously blocked all military appointments last year due to concerns over apparent “wokism,” expressed confusion during questioning with reporters, stating that he stood with the ruling while also arguing that he supported in vitro fertilization.

The ruling comes at a tumultuous time for the Republican Party specifically as it pertains to reproductive rights issues. Republicans demonstrated an underwhelming showing during the 2022 midterm elections which is blamed largely on the involvement of former president and now-Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump and the 2022 Supreme Court Dobbs ruling which overturned abortion protections from Roe V. Wade. As a result, the Republican strategy has shifted from the hard-line anti-abortion stance and major candidates including Trump have now declined to promise nationwide abortion-ban laws.

It is imperative that our nation’s leaders put people over politics and find a legally admissible and practically feasible manner for in vitro fertilization families to move forward with their procedures.