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US Clinic Stops IVF Services After Court Rules Frozen Embryos Are Children

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US Clinic Stops IVF Services After Court Rules Frozen Embryos Are Children

The Alabama Supreme Court has ruled that frozen embryos are children and a person could be held liable for accidentally destroying them. Following this, a major clinic in the US state paused its in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) over fears of criminal prosecution. The decision comes in the wake of the stringent abortion laws that the country is already battling and this could be yet another strike on women’s reproductive health care.

Meanwhile, the University of Alabama Birmingham, which has one of the leading medical facilities in the state, said it would continue to retrieve eggs from women’s ovaries but not proceed to the next step in the IVF process which required the eggs to be fertilised with sperm before they are implanted into the uterus.

“We are saddened that this will impact our patients’ attempt to have a baby through IVF,” the University of Alabama Birmingham said in a statement.

“But we must evaluate the potential that our patients and our physicians could be prosecuted criminally or face punitive damages for following the standard of care for IVF treatments,” it added.

Doctors and activists have opined the ruling would have adverse and far-reaching consequences for fertility treatments in Alabama and beyond. But conservative groups welcomed the ruling saying even the tiniest embryo deserved legal protection.

The case of wrongful death was filed when three couples whose embryos were lost at a fertility clinic in 2020. Back then a patient had walked into the place where the embryos were stored and accidentally dropped them leading to their destruction. 

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