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Where is Our Compassion?
Alabama’s IVF Ruling Destroys Couples’ Hopes of Growing Their Families 

Across the United States, 1-in-5 married couples struggle to conceive. 

 

Infertility is a deeply emotional and painful journey, fraught with feelings of inadequacy, loss, and despair. For couples grappling with infertility, IVF represents a beacon of hope, a chance to fulfill their desire to raise a family.

Infertility has become so common that 42% of American adults say they have used, or know someone who has used, fertility treatments.

Tragically, thousands of Alabamans have now lost the hope of becoming parents after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that all frozen IVF embryos must be treated as living children, which effectively banned the treatment across the state. 

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Within hours of the decision, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), the largest hospital in the state, suspended its IVF program to avoid possible criminal prosecution for following the standard of care for IVF treatments—even for couples already undergoing treatment. Now these couples, who have invested tens of thousands of dollars to become parents, won’t even get the chance to complete the treatment and become pregnant. 

 

Couples are scrambling. Once treatment has started, the fertile window is very small and finding another clinic to continue treatment out-of-state is daunting, if not entirely impossible in such little time with no notice. Many have already invested all of their savings into the treatment, with no money left to relocate. There are no answers to console them or their tremendous loss.  

 

“The moments that our patients are wanting to have by growing their families — Christmas mornings with grandparents, kindergarten, going in the first day of school, with little backpacks— all that stuff is what this is about. Those are the real moments that this ruling could deprive patients of,” said Dr. Michael C. Allemand, a reproductive endocrinologist at Alabama Fertility—which has also suspended operations in the wake of the court’s decision. 

The Alabama Supreme Court’s decision reflects a profound misunderstanding of what it means to be pro-life and pro-family. By declaring frozen embryos children, they have stripped the possibility of life from thousands of children and the opportunity to become parents from just as many couples. They have strained marriages. And they have made the most anti-family decision in decades.

How IVF Works

Choosing IVF treatment is not for the faint of heart; it’s only for those who deeply desire to become parents. 

Not only does IVF require a massive financial commitment (each cycle costs $12,000 on average in the U.S.), it is also rough on the body. Women have to give themselves fertility injections everyday for two weeks before undergoing a painful egg-retrieval procedure. 

IVF

For IVF to work, doctors usually retrieve 10-20 eggs. All viable eggs are fertilized (usually about 70% of those retrieved). The doctors do this so they will have enough strong embryos to implant and increase the woman’s odds of becoming pregnant. Extra embryos that are not strong enough to implant are not preserved. 

Sadly, many women in Alabama who had already started this treatment did it all for nothing because the state Supreme Court’s decision effectively outlawed the egg fertilization process, as failure to preserve and implant the weak embryos is now considered a criminal offense. 

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