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Melson, Daniels bring IVF protection bills

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Two Alabama lawmakers on Thursday unveiled legislation they hope will protect the in vitro fertilization process in Alabama.

The bills follow a state supreme court ruling that frozen embryos can be considered children under state law. As a result, several IVF providers have paused their fertility treatments in order to avoid legal consequences.

In its ruling, the court cited a 2018 constitutional amendment protecting the rights of the unborn.

Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, said it was never lawmakers’ intention that the declaration impact IVF procedures.

“The entire in vitro fertilization model of health care is at risk,” Melson, a medical doctor, said about the ruling. “Everything from the cost of insurance to flat out giving it up because it’s not worth it anymore.”

The two-page draft of Melson’s bill, obtained by Alabama Daily News, says “any human egg that is fertilized in vitro shall be considered a potential life but shall not be considered for any purposes a human life, a human being, a person, or an unborn life unless and until the fertilized egg is implanted into a woman’s uterus and a viable pregnancy can be medically detected.”

Later on Thursday, House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels, D-Huntsville, filed a similar bill that says a fertilized human egg or embryo that exists outside of a human uterus would not be considered an unborn child or human being “for any purpose under state law.”

Daniels’ bill, which has been assigned to be first heard in the Judiciary Committee, would become effective immediately upon its passage.


Sen. Tim Melson.

Melson doesn’t want Alabamians to have to go out of state for fertility treatments, he said.

He hoped to get the bill introduced in the Senate Thursday and in the Senate Health Committee — which he chairs — as soon as possible. 

“The bottom line is, something needs to be fixed,” he said.

Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton, a Democrat, said Republicans’ quest to make stringent anti-abortion laws and policies may have eliminated a path for people to become parents.

“At the end of the day, the Republican Party has to be responsible for what they have done,” Singleton told The Associated Press.

Melson’s bill will need the support of his GOP colleagues, and as of Thursday afternoon, he had some in both chambers.

Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, said she discussed the issue and possible legislation with Melson.

Collins has long been an advocate for pro-life legislation and in 2019 sponsored the bill that became the state’s near total ban on abortions in 2022.

“Protecting the ability for families to use the in vitro process is important and we are working on it,” Collins told Alabama Daily News on Thursday.  “I believe that we want to keep these options available for families. We have families and babies already that were born through this process.”

She’ll sponsor a bill in the House if Melson gets it out of the Senate, she said.

“Getting the language right is important and I will continue to work with him,” Collins said.

Sen. Sam Givhan, R-Huntsville, is on the Senate Health Committee. He favors the legislation.

“I’ve had constituents call me even today and say, this is how we got our kid,” Givhan said Thursday.

The Senate’s other medical doctor and committee member, Sen. Larry Stutts, R-Tuscumbia, hadn’t seen Melson’s bill Thursday afternoon but said several people were looking at the right potential language needed to protect life achieved through IVF.

“We need to do something to clear this up,” Stutts said.

Several lawmakers said they’re not looking to debate when life begins.

“I think we just have to say we’re willing to give these families a chance to have their children and this is the process we have to go through,” Givhan said.

In 2018, Alabamians approved a constitutional amendment that said it is “the public policy of this state to recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, most importantly the right to life in all manners and measures appropriate and lawful…”

The legislation that put the amendment before voters was sponsored by then-Rep. Matt Fridy, R-Montevallo, and passed the Legislature along party lines. Fridy is now a judge on the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals. 


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