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Alabama’s Fertility Restrictions Criticized as Medically Misguided

Alabama’s recent Supreme Court ruling that confers “personhood” to embryos led to severe restrictions on use of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) and deepened concerns about access to reproductive healthcare for people in the state, and across the nation. Although the Alabama legislature has offered limited legal protection, the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) strongly opposes decisions that impede access to essential healthcare services, including evidence-based reproductive care.

Such stringent regulations regarding embryo status  portend dire consequences for people facing infertility and promise even greater limits on the ability of physicians to deliver evidence-based treatments  to patients requiring these services. Although a subsequent law passed after the embryo “personhood” ruling now aims to protect the use of in vitro fertilization (IVF) in Alabama, AMWA remains concerned about the potential impact of these types of judicial decisions on reproductive healthcare access for those in the state and beyond. 

Up to 1 in 6 individuals in the general public  and 1 in 4 women physicians face infertility. IVF is a safe and effective option for many individuals seeking to build a family. The Alabama Supreme Court decision directly led clinics in Alabama to pause IVF services. While some have reopened following the new law, others have kept IVF on hold given concerns that remain unaddressed in the State Supreme Court decision. The “IVF protection” law is certainly not a full solution to the broader issue.

The Alabama Supreme Court ruling has far-reaching implications for reproductive justice and equity. Advocates warn that the restrictions disproportionately affect underrepresented communities, including low-income individuals and people of color, who may already lack access to healthcare. By limiting options to ART including IVF, Alabama is exacerbating existing disparities in family-building.

Physicians must be able to provide reproductive care that meets the needs of their patients – including those facing current or future infertility – without undue interference from politicians and lawmakers. The Alabama court’s decision undermines fundamental rights of individuals and imposes a moral agenda that supplants evidence-based medical care and restricts the use of assisted reproductive technologies for patients with infertility.

AMWA commits to redoubling our efforts to challenge any and all limitations to reproductive care, arguing against laws that violate patients’ legal and ethical rights and place arbitrary political limits on medical care when these decisions should be free from government interference.

– AMWA Fertility Executive Leadership Team

What’s Next: Join Us for a Reproductive Care Listening Session
to give you an  open forum to discuss the issues facing
health professionals in Alabama and to consider a way forward.

(Open to AMWA Members and Allies)

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