Alabama Rules Frozen Embryos Are ‘Children’: What This Means for IVF

        • According to the Alabama Supreme Court, frozen embryos conceived through IVF are “children” as defined by the state’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act.
        • A ruling on February 16 reversed the decision of a lower court, which dismissed a lawsuit for wrongful death involving three couples who were undergoing fertility treatment.
        • Alabama’s total ban on abortion could have grave ethical implications for fertility patients.
        • Health experts and anti-abortion activists have warned of the consequences for fertility patients after the reversal of Roe V. Wade.
  • The Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF) are “children” as defined by the state’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act.
  • The February 16 ruling reversed Mobile County Circuit Court Judge Jill Parrish’s The couples’ frozen embryos were accidentally destroyed by a hospital cryosurgery.
  • , Associate Justice Jay Mitchell wrote that the prohibition against intentional killing of humans is based on man’s creation as God’s image.
  • The Justice said: “Therefore, to kill a man is to deface God’s image. This is an injury not only to man but also to God.
  • The decision of the Court could have a major impact on people who are undergoing treatments and have the option of destroying their frozen embryos. Alabama’s abortion law prohibits abortions at all stages of pregnancy unless medically necessary.
  • In a statement to Healthline, Kelly Baden, vice president of public policy at Guttmacher Institute, called the ruling radical.
  • Baden stated that the Alabama ruling, which states that embryos are entitled to the same rights as people in the law, shows how Roe V. Wade has been overturned.

Alabama court rules frozen embryos are “extrauterine children”

  • The Alabama Supreme Court’s ruling allows the couples – James LePage and Emily LePage; William Tripp Fonde & Caroline Fonde; and Felicia Burdick – Aysenne & Scott Aysenne – to sue the Center for Reproductive Medicine / Mobile Infirmary Association for the wrongful death of a minor under Alabama law.
  • The couples will be seeking damages for the loss of their frozen embryos that are now considered “children” by state law.
  • A hospital patient accidentally destroyed the couples’ embryos after wandering into cryosurgery, where they were being stored. According to the ruling, the patient took the embryos out of the freezer after they had frozen burned their hand.
  • The Alabama justice wrote: “The central issue presented in this consolidated appellate, which concerns the death of embryos in cryogenic nurseries, is whether there is an unwritten exception in the Act for extrauterine (that is, unborn babies who are outside a biological uterus when they are killed) children.
  • The answer is “no” under the existing black-letter laws: the Wrongful Death of a Minor Act covers all unborn babies, no matter where they are located.
  • Baden disagreed with the justice’s opinion. She said that the anti-abortion group has been promoting this radical concept of “personhood” for years.
  • The potential impact is vast. Your ability to start a family, maintain a healthy pregnancy, or choose abortion are all connected.

The Frozen Embryo ruling may impact IVF treatment.

  • The number of viable embryos produced by IVF patients depends on the number of eggs fertilized successfully with sperm.
  • The frozen embryos will be implanted into the patient after they have been successfully transferred. The patient can choose to freeze the remaining embryos to use for future pregnancies if they are not pregnant after one successful transfer.
  • The patients have the medical autonomy to choose whether they want to keep their embryos or discard them. They can also decide to donate the embryos to research.
  • The Medical Association of the State of Alabama recently cautioned of the possible consequences of fertility treatments if the state’s wrongful death law is upheld.
  • The medical group has filed a brief stating that “the potential negative impact on IVF treatments in Alabama cannot overstated.”
  • The increased risk of legal exposure, as advocated by the Appellants, will – at best – substantially increase the cost associated with IVF. The group warned that the increased legal risk could lead to Alabama’s fertility clinics closing down and fertile specialists relocating to other states in order to practice fertility medicine.

Protecting the rights of fertility patients

  • Alabama’s nearly total abortion ban came into effect in 2022 after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Roe v. Wade.
  • The ethical implications of other states that have strict bans on abortion declaring embryos to be people could affect fertility patients who cryogenically store embryos.
  • Health experts and pro-choice advocates have expressed concern over potential implications for fertility treatments and embryos frozen since anti-abortion activists claim that life begins with conception.
  • Baden stated that groups opposed to abortion will continue their efforts to restrict reproductive rights.
  • Baden stated that “we’ve already seen the anti-abortion movements and their allies within legislatures and the courts were not the end goals of the anti abortion movement.”
  • She added, “Now the devastating effects are becoming more clear and touch every aspect of our reproductive life — whether or not someone can get pregnant with IVF if they can use hormonal contraception to prevent pregnancy if they can continue the pregnancy in an obstetric complication-prone state, and if they can choose abortion.”
  • The Access to Family Building Act 2024 was recently introduced by Rep. Susan Wild from Pennsylvania and Sen. Tammy Duckworth from Illinois to help protect statutory rights for fertility patients and doctors.


  • The Alabama Supreme Court ruled recently that all frozen embryos were people under Alabama’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act.
  • The decision reversed the dismissal of a lawsuit for wrongful death between three couples, an infertility clinic, and a hospital by a lower-court judge. The couple’s embryos had been destroyed by a patient who wandered into the cryosurgery, dropped them, and walked out.
    • If other states follow the Court’s decision, it could have significant implications for fertility patients both in Alabama and across the country. Health experts and pro-choice lobbyists work hard to protect this right.


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