House Health Committee chair Paul Lee (R-Dothan) attempted on Tuesday to rectify last week's actions of allowing only supporters of the in-vitro fertilization (IVF) bill to speak in favor of the bill while not affording any of those who had signed up in opposition to the bill the same opportunity.

Last week, the health committee passed a House version of a bill offering immunity to IVF providers after the recent Alabama Supreme Court ruling.

The meeting had a scheduled public hearing for supporters or opposition to speak on the legislation. After Lee said those who asked for the meeting revoked that request, Lee still allowed several supporters to speak, limiting it only to three because he couldn't read the handwriting of further speakers who signed up to speak in support.

After the meeting, those opposed to the bill expressed displeasure at their exclusion.

SEE ALSO: House Health Committee chair Rep. Lee shuts out opposition to IVF bill, cancels public hearing while letting supporters speak.

Lee vehemently took exception to 1819 News' initial reporting, attempting to claim it was inaccurate since trial lawyers, who requested the public hearing, had then asked it be called off.

1819 News met with Lee and House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter's (R-Rainsville) chief of staff Mark Tuggle in Lee's office the day the original story came out. During the meeting, both Lee and Tuggle conceded that it was ultimately the chairman's prerogative to call off public meetings. An outside entity has no such authority.

On Tuesday, the House Health Committee met again to approve the Senate's version of the IVF bill after a recent Alabama Supreme Court decision ruled that embryos were persons under the Alabama Constitution.

Lee did not call a public hearing for the Senate version of the bill. However, he decided to give a surprise announcement, offering anyone opposed to the bill a chance to speak.

"We had a public hearing called, and it was called by [an] outside entity, and then they called it off," Lee said. "Well, in the meantime, I had three people, actually had more than that, but I had three that came to my office and asked me if they could tell their story. And I gave them my word that I said, 'Yes. I'd be happy to do that,' and I stood by what I said. Since the public hearing was called off, that was all that spoke. Well, this week, because there was insinuation that I cut off last week's debate, I'm going to allow three people that is against this bill to speak."

Lee looked around for a speaker, swiftly finding that individuals desiring to speak at public meetings tend only to attend when there is advanced notice, as he found out last week that those same people tend to take a dim view of having their side shut out of the debate.

In what appeared to be a retaliatory gesture to make up for last week's oversight, the Houston County lawmaker pointed to 1819 News, offering the opportunity to speak against the bill.  

After declining the opportunity and no one in attendance accepting Lee's invitation, the committee approved the legislation.

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