Alabama court won’t revisit frozen embryo ruling

May 3, 2024, 3:44 PM

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama Supreme Court on Friday declined to reconsider a controversial ruling that said frozen embryos are considered children under a state law.

Justices in a 7-2 decision without comment rejected a request to revisit the ruling that drew international attention and prompted fertility clinics to cease services earlier this year. Alabama justices in February ruled that three couples could pursue wrongful death lawsuits for their “extrauterine children” after their frozen embryos were destroyed in an accident at a storage facility.

The decision prompted a wave of public backlash as women saw fertility treatments canceled or put in jeopardy after the ruling.

Three clinics stopped IVF services because of the civil liability concerns raised by the ruling, which treated a frozen embryo the same as a child or gestating fetus under Alabama’s wrongful death law. The clinics resumed services after state lawmakers approved legislation shielding providers from civil lawsuits.

Justice Will Sellers, in a dissenting opinion, said he would have granted the rehearing request so that they could gather more information.

“The majority opinion on original submission had significant and sweeping implications for individuals who were entirely unassociated with the parties in the case. Many of those individuals had no reason to believe that a legal and routine medical procedure would be delayed, much less denied, as a result of this Court’s opinion,” Sellers wrote.

The Center for Reproductive Medicine and the Mobile Infirmary, the defendants in the lawsuit, had asked justices to rehear the issue.

The Medical Association of the State of Alabama and the Alabama Hospital Association filed a brief supporting the request. They said even though IVF services have resumed, the decision continues to create a cloud of uncertainty for the medical community.

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Alabama court won’t revisit frozen embryo ruling