MONTGOMERY — On Wednesday, the State of Alabama passed legislation providing civil and criminal immunity to in-vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics for death or damage to embryos, which could be defined as children under the state's wrongful death statute, according to the Alabama Supreme Court.

The Court held in a 7-2 decision that parents of frozen embryos killed at an IVF clinic in Mobile when an intruder tampered with a freezer may proceed with a wrongful death lawsuit for alleged negligence. The Court based its decision to protect the unborn on Alabama's Sanctity of Life Amendment, which states "the public policy of this state to recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, including the right to life."

Identical bills from the House and Senate progressed in their respective committees this past week. However, the Senate version of the bill, Senate Bill 159, passed the House and was concurred on by both bodies Wednesday evening. Gov. Kay Ivey signed the bill into law that evening, effective immediately.

Committee amendments would allow for compensatory damages for damage to or death of an embryo brought against the manufacturer of goods used to facilitate the IVF process or the transport of stored embryos. Damages are calculated as the price paid for the IVF cycle. The amendment would also prevent criminal charges against a manufacturer.

The legislation would apply retroactively, except in cases currently under litigation.

House debate on the Senate bill was brief. State Rep. Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa) was first to the podium, speaking against the bill and calling it "a really bad piece of legislation." 

According to England, the immunity will not be sufficient to protect providers against lawsuits, saying the bill is an attempt to "play lawsuit whack-a-mole."

England pointed to the 2019 Human Life Protection Act, the abortion law that went into effect after the overturning of Roe V. Wade in 2022. According to England, the prohibitions in that act "almost describe to a T in some regards what goes on in IVF clinics." He also said that it sets a "really bad precedent" for providers to threaten the legislature for immunity in exchange for continuing or resuming IVF operations.

"It's just hard for me to imagine that there are entities outside of us powerful enough to threaten us where we would pass a bill to give them immunity to destroy embryos," England said.

State Rep. Patrick Sellers (D-Birmingham) echoed the sentiments of England and others who pointed to the perceived hypocrisy of granting immunity to IVF clinics while still Constitutionally defining life as beginning at conception.

While silent during Wednesday's debate, some Republican lawmakers have expressed a desire to see further regulation on IVF practices since those practices frequently involve the discarding of human embryos.

The bill passed with a final vote of 81-12-9. The Senate concurred with the amended bill just after 8:45, nearly four hours later.

During the Senate debate, State Sen. Larry Stutts (R-Tuscumbia) objected to the compensatory damages amendment since it placed a dollar value on human life.

"We're proud of what we passed in 2019 to say the culture of Alabama, we're a pro-life state, and we're proud of that," Stutts said. "And many of you in this chamber ran on saying, 'I'm a conservative Republican, pro-life,' and you're fixing to vote on something that places a dollar value, understand, it's preborn life, but we've all said life begins at conception and that's what we believe, and that is not what this bill does."

Lawmakers held a press conference after the legislation passed the House, praising the expediency with which the surprise issue was handled.

IVF Meeting. Alabama News
House Members gather after passing IVF immunity bill. Photo: Craig Monger.

"This is probably as much of a pro-life piece of legislation that we've ever passed," House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) said after the vote. And I commend each and every one of these men and women that's standing with me and around me because of the way that they treated this issue and the way that things are moving forward."

House sponsor State Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur) also spoke, praising lawmakers for pushing the bill through so swiftly.

"I truly hope and believe that the clinics will open back, that this is going to provide the immunity that they need to continue doing the process with these families," Collins said.

She continued, "We've done it in five legislative days, and that is an amazing feat."

Ledbetter was noncommittal on whether the legislature would need to address the issue of embryonic personhood through a constitutional amendment. However, he did say that lawmakers will continue discussing the issue.

When asked why the legislature didn't address the personhood issue during this legislative process, Ledbetter responded, "We didn't want to act too quick and cause more disruption than what we should."

Less than half an hour after the Senate concurred, Ivey announced she had signed the bill while acknowledging that more work would likely come.

"The overwhelming support of SB159 from the Alabama Legislature proves what we have been saying: Alabama works to foster a culture of life, and that certainly includes IVF," Ivey said. "I am pleased to sign this important, short-term measure into law so that couples in Alabama hoping and praying to be parents can grow their families through IVF. IVF is a complex issue, no doubt, and I anticipate there will be more work to come, but right now, I am confident that this legislation will provide the assurances our IVF clinics need and will lead them to resume services immediately. 

"Make no mistake about it, though, in the coming days, weeks and months, particularly as we are in the heat of a national election, we will hear a lot of political rhetoric around IVF. Let me say clearly: Alabama supports growing families through IVF. From protecting the unborn to supporting IVF, Alabama is proud we are a pro-life, pro-family state," she concluded.  

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email

Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.