Duckworth Says Alabama Law is Not Good Enough

( – While some proponents of a new law designed to protect in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments in Alabama celebrated its passing on Thursday, March 7, Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill) claimed that the legislation did not “go far enough”. Duckworth, who became a mother to her two daughters through IVF, has spoken before about her desire to make the process available to all and has renewed her call to create federal protections for it in the wake of the recent Alabama legislation.

In February, the Alabama Supreme Court determined that embryos in IVF clinics should be counted as children in a ruling that would allow three couples to sue the clinics that accidentally destroyed their frozen embryos. Beyond this lawsuit, however, the ruling had a wider impact. Almost half of the IVF clinics in the state halted procedures after the ruling prompted concerns about physicians being potentially subject to legal action.

Alabama Senate Bill 159, signed into law on March 7 by Republican Gov. Kay Ivey, provides protection from criminal and civil liability for clinicians who destroy an embryo as part of standard operating procedures. Gov. Ivey echoed concerns voiced from both sides of the political aisle when she referred to the bill as a “short-term measure”, with lawmakers arguing that further examination of the issue is needed. While the legislation provides a carve-out for embryos situated in IVF clinics, the state does not allow abortions and the Alabama constitution recognizes the rights of “unborn children”.

Sen. Larry Stutts, an obstetrician and Republican, opposed the bill as he believed it would harm parents by preventing them seeking legal recourse against IVF clinics. He added that the ruling placed a monetary value on human life by restricting the amount of damages that could be awarded in future lawsuits. Democrat Rep. Chris England called the legislation an attempt to play “whack-a-mole” and argued that the problem stemmed from the Alabama Constitution applying the concept of personhood to embryos.

Sen. Duckworth complained that the bill did not address the issue of whether or not an embryo should count as a “child”, as per the February state Supreme Court ruling. Following that ruling she reintroduced the Access to Family Building Act, a bill which demands federal protection for IVF services. She previously introduced the bill without success in 2022 and fared no better in February 2024. Duckworth asked the Senate to pass the bill with unanimous consent, but each time faced Republican dissent.

Copyright 2024,