A State Court Ruling on I.V.F. Echoes Far Beyond Alabama

An Alabama Supreme Court’s ruling that frozen embryos in test tubes should be considered children has sent shock waves through the world of reproductive medicine, casting doubt over fertility care for would-be parents in the state and raising complex legal questions with implications extending far beyond Alabama.

On Tuesday, Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, said the ruling would cause “exactly the type of chaos that we expected when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and paved the way for politicians to dictate some of the most personal decisions families can make.”

Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One as President Biden traveled to California, Ms. Jean-Pierre reiterated the Biden administration’s call for Congress to codify the protections of Roe v. Wade into federal law.

“As a reminder, this is the same state whose attorney general threatened to prosecute people who help women travel out of state to seek the care they need,” she said, referring to Alabama, which began enforcing a total abortion ban in June 2022.

The judges issued the ruling on Friday in appeals cases brought by couples whose embryos were destroyed in 2020, when a hospital patient removed frozen embryos from tanks of liquid nitrogen in Mobile and dropped them on the floor.

Referencing antiabortion language in the state constitution, the judges’ majority opinion said that an 1872 statute allowing parents to sue over the wrongful death of a minor child applies to unborn children, with no exception for “extrauterine children.”

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