Pro-Life Groups Urge Alabama Governor to Veto IVF Bill

Letter was signed by Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, March for Life Action, Live Action, Students for Life Action, Human Coalition Action, and several other prominent pro-life groups.

A bill granting protections for IVF procedures is heading to the desk of Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, shown above.
A bill granting protections for IVF procedures is heading to the desk of Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, shown above. (photo: Public Domain)

Thirteen of the country’s leading national pro-life groups are urging Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey to veto a recently passed bill that would institute broad protections for in vitro fertilization (IVF) providers in the state.

The bill, already passed by both the Alabama House and Senate, gives blanket immunity to IVF providers for the “damage or death of an embryo” conceived through IVF.

IVF is a fertility treatment, opposed by the Catholic Church because it separates the marriage act from procreation and destroys embryonic human life. 

Acknowledging the advances in science available today to those seeking help having children, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops warns Catholics on its website of the ethical issues involved.

“The many techniques now used to overcome infertility also have profound moral implications, and couples should be aware of these before making decisions about their use,” the bishops wrote.

The Alabama House and Senate versions of the bill have now been unified into one bill, which is expected to be sent to the governor’s desk to be signed into law this week.

The groups said in a letter sent to Ivey on Monday that, “if enacted, this sweeping legislation would slam the door on any protections for the most vulnerable Alabamians, prevent families from seeking justice for the death or harm caused to their children, and leave a trail of destructive, immoral implications in its wake.”

The letter was signed by Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, March for Life Action, Live Action, Students for Life Action, Human Coalition Action, and several other prominent pro-life groups.

They pointed out that, “in the past, Alabama has courageously defended the intrinsic equal dignity of every human being, regardless of age, size, location, stage of development, or condition of dependence” and that “Alabama law currently provides commonsense legal protections for human beings created through IVF.”

According to the letter, current Alabama IVF law “simply requires fertility clinics to exercise due care over the lives that they create.” If the new IVF protections are signed into law, however, the letter said, it would “withdraw existing legal protections for Alabama’s most vulnerable persons” and “have catastrophic consequences.”

Alabama Set to Reverse Pro-Life Protections

The bill’s passage comes in the wake of a controversial February ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court that declared unborn babies conceived through IVF are human persons, protected under the state’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act.

The 8-1 ruling said that the state’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act “applies to all children, born and unborn, without limitation” and “regardless of their location.”

The decision set off a national debate on the personhood of unborn IVF babies and the morality of the IVF process. Both Democrats and Republicans have been largely supportive of IVF while Alabama has been widely lambasted over the decision.

In response, the Alabama Legislature fast-tracked a bill to enshrine new IVF protections, passing it in overwhelming votes in both chambers.

Now, with the two legislative bodies reportedly finished reviewing the House and Senate versions of the bill, all that remains is for it to be sent to the governor to be signed into law.

Pro-Life Groups Warn of ‘Irreversible Damage’

The pro-life groups that signed Monday’s letter warned that the bill could “cause irreversible damage to the thousands of embryos, parents, and women in this state who would be at the mercy of such a monumental decision.”

Addressing Ivey directly, the letter said: “We urge you to veto this legislation as a rash reaction to a troubling situation.”

The letter also urged Alabama elected officials to “slow down and study the ethical implications of this highly complex topic.”

“While we understand and share the legislators’ concern for families struggling with infertility, this unjust measure will ultimately harm these families and jeopardize the lives of precious children,” they said.

Kristi Hamrick, a representative for Students for Life, told CNA her group believes the bill is “an overreaction and an overreach and also provides too much cover for an industry that clearly needs to be monitored, that clearly needs more discussion.” 

“We think people need to slow down and take a look at this business and before they give carte blanche permission to the business to continue as it operates, we need to ask better questions about how it is operating,” Hamrick explained.

Hamrick pointed out that there are numerous examples of negligence and abuse by the IVF industry that warrant more careful consideration by legislators. The Washington Post reported Tuesday that a fourth couple just sued the Center for Reproductive Medicine, the IVF clinic at the heart of the controversial Alabama Supreme Court case, for negligence that resulted in the death of their unborn child. 

Hamrick said that many who are in a rush to protect IVF are overlooking the real danger the industry poses to unborn children. 

In a statement obtained by CNA on Wednesday, Jeff Bradford, president of Human Coalition Action, stated that “all children have a right to life and must be protected as persons under the law, regardless of their stage of development.”

“At Human Coalition Action, we believe that human life begins at the moment of fertilization, and we are determined to care for and protect every child at any stage, including the embryonic period,” Bradford said.  

What Does the Catholic Church Have to Say?

The Church opposes IVF. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2377) states that IVF is “morally unacceptable” because it separates the marriage act from procreation and establishes “the domination of technology” over human life. 

During IVF procedures, doctors fuse sperm and eggs to create human embryos and implant them in the mother’s womb. Embryos that are intended to be implanted later are frozen. Undesired embryos are routinely destroyed or used for scientific research, which kills those unborn children.

While the Catholic Church encourages research to help married couples conceive, the Church is firmly opposed to IVF. Donald Carlson, a representative for the Diocese of Birmingham, told CNA last week that the diocese would not condone the legislation because it contrasts with clear Catholic teaching on IVF.

Carlson said that the Catholic position on IVF is very “straightforward.”

“Human life begins at conception and that life has to be protected in all its forms,” Carlson said, adding that Birmingham Bishop Steven Raica “encourages couples to continue in their journey towards fulfilling their dreams to have a family and to seek ethical ways to accomplish that goal.”

Register staff added to this story.