Unpacking Alabama’s IVF Ruling and Its Implications for New Mexico

Unpacking Alabama’s IVF Ruling and Its Implications for New Mexico


ProgressNow New Mexico explores the Alabama Supreme Court's groundbreaking decision treating frozen embryos with the same rights as children, marking a significant legal endorsement of "fetal personhood." This ruling not only challenges the practices and ethics of IVF but also signals potential nationwide shifts in reproductive healthcare, threatening access to IVF, contraception, and abortion rights. It emphasizes the broader implications for New Mexico, urging awareness and political action to safeguard reproductive freedoms.

This week, we took a deep dive into the Alabama Supreme Court ruling,what it could mean for the future of in vitro fertilization (IVF), and what it might mean for New Mexico.

Last week, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled in a case that involved a fertility clinic and some frozen embryos. These embryos were dropped and then had to be rendered non-viable.

The couple who couldn’t use these embryos sued the clinic. They sued not just for breaking their property but also for wrongful death. This case made its way through the lower courts and ended up in the Alabama Supreme Court.

With a seven (7) to two (2) ruling, the court’s deciding opinion states that a frozen embryo has the same rights as a child under the law. Let’s say that again: the same test tube embryos that are created through in vitro fertilization – or IVF – have the same rights as a child under the law in Alabama.

This is the first time that any state supreme court has ruled in favor of what is known as “fetal personhood,” which is basically the idea that life begins at the moment of conception.

What this means for IVF: doctors and embryologists who work in fertility clinics would be required by Alabama law to ignore best practices and their own scientific analysis of the embryos viability. As it is, IVF requires time, an intense medication prep and invasive procedures for egg extraction and embryo transfer. Even then, under the best scientific practices, the IVF round may end in miscarriage.

Yet, under these already challenging IVF realities, the Supreme Court in the state of Alabama has decided, issuing a nakedly religious opinion, that they know better than doctors and patients, and that no embryo should be discarded. In short, fertility patients should undergo round after round of doomed IVF and endure (and pay tens of thousands of dollars for) miscarriage after miscarriage, heartbreak after heartbreak. All of this suffering is at the service of asserting embryonic “rights” at the expense of people who want to be parents.

It’s no wonder that IVF clinics have shut down in Alabama.

With no scientific basis to back up the “life begins at conception” ideology, this is court-ordered cruelty. Just as there is no scientific basis to make pregnant people wait until an ectopic pregnancy is about to kill them to get a life-saving abortion, in this Post-Roe age, pregnant people’s rights are shunted aside.

And if you’ve been following us or any other progressive organization that speaks on issues of bodily autonomy, or reproductive rights, health, or justice, you know where this is coming from. Christian Nationalists. These are folks who run in the same circles with people who are anti-abortion, anti-trans, gun-slinging, election deniers and who have been indoctrinating people with their extremist views for decades.

These are the same people who have pushed this idea of “fetal personhood” to defend full abortion bans, without any exceptions. This idea threatens a wide range of reproductive health care services, including many common forms of contraception, IVF, and medical treatment of pregnant people. Emergency contraception or hormonal contraception are also at risk.

This ruling is now law in Alabama. Other red states will attempt to imitate what is happening. Just like when Texas’s SB8 abortion ban went into place, other red states will follow.

To bring it further into perspective. Donald Trump (for some reason) has many allies in Christian Nationalist groups, and they’ve got a master plan. Trump and other GOP legislators and actively running candidates have already said that he will get rid of abortion (specifically, abortion medication to start) using the Comstock Act, which has been on the books since the 1800s.

Example of Yvette Herell's commitment to "stand up for life"To further pile on, 125 House Republicans have backed a ‘life at conception’ bill without any IVF exception, which was introduced into the U.S. House in January. This is the second time this kind of bill has been introduced at the federal level. The first time we had a bill like this, previous Congressional District 2 Representative, Yvette Herrell was a co-sponsor. While she did recently state that she supports access to IVF in an Axios article, we noted that her statement was being directed by the Senate GOP campaign arm who was urging candidates to back IVF after the Alabama court ruling so they can stay competitive for the upcoming election. We also love our receipts, and have taken count of the amount of times Herrell has promised to  “protect life”— at least 27 times during her first run.

Thankfully, we have Gabe Vasquez in that seat now, but since Herrell is running again, we’re going to need every eligible voter that resides in CD2 to get out and vote so we can keep her out.

Anyway, back on the topic of fetal personhood. If this idea that the embryo is a person becomes accepted in other high courts, or even our Supreme Court, we’re worse off than we were with Roe falling, if you can believe it.

We’re looking at the future with no abortion rights at all under any circumstances, no access to most birth control, and no access to fertility treatments. Unfortunately, we’re not being hysterical. These people are very serious about following through with their horrifying plans. They did it with Roe, and they’ll do it to the rest of our reproductive healthcare. It’s going to affect all of us unless you are a cis, white, Christian male.

While we’re most likely going to see another Biden-Trump rematch (yeah we know we’re not happy about it either), we need to pay close attention.

If you’re not already registered to vote, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU WAITING FOR. If you are, for fuck’s sake be ready to vote out every Republican in New Mexico. Because even if New Mexico is a state that honors every person’s decisions over their own bodies, what started in Alabama will become our national reality.

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