On Dec. 20, 2020, a patient of Mobile Infirmary crept into a fertility clinic at the hospital and took frozen embryos out of cryopreservation. The subzero temperature of the device holding the embryos caused the patient to drop it to the floor, where the embryos "began to die slowly,” according to court filings.

The three families who lost their embryos that day claimed the hospital failed to protect their unborn children and they filed wrongful death and negligence lawsuits.

The case made it to the Alabama Supreme Court, where justices ruled in a 7-2 decision that the embryos were protected by Alabama’s wrongful death act and the Alabama Constitution.

In response to that decision, in-vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics around the state paused operations until the legislature stepped in and passed a bill providing civil and criminal immunity to clinics for death or damage to embryos.

However, the hospital where it all started has announced it will no longer provide IVF therapy after the end of the year.

“In order to assist families in Alabama and along the Gulf Coast who have initiated the process of IVF therapy in the hopes of starting a family, Mobile Infirmary has temporarily resumed IVF treatments at the hospital,” the hospital said in a statement. “However, in light of litigation concerns surrounding IVF therapy, Mobile Infirmary will no longer be able to offer this service to families after December 31, 2024.”

The ending of services includes clinics that lease offices from Mobile Infirmary, including Infirmary Health.

RELATED: Mobile-based Center for Reproductive Medicine IVF clinic resumes practice

Governor Kay Ivey signed the bill that protects IVF clinics into law and it was effective immediately. The legislation applies retroactively, except in cases currently under litigation, such as the Mobile Infirmary case.

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email erica.thomas@1819news.com.

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