ASRM Condemns Profoundly Misguided and Dangerous Court Decision in Alabama

Statement attributable to Paula Amato, MD President


February 18, 2024
For Immediate Release

Washington, DC – "In LePage v Mobile Infirmary Clinic, the Alabama Supreme Court made a decision that flies in the face of medical reality and the needs of the citizens of Alabama.

In its medically and scientifically unfounded decision, the court held that a fertilized frozen egg in a fertility clinic freezer should be treated as the legal equivalent of an existent child or a fetus gestating in a womb. The eight members of the court who approved this decision may view these things as the same, but science and everyday common sense tell us they are not.

Cryopreservation, or freezing of reproductive tissues, including fertilized eggs or embryos, is essential to modern fertility care and helps patients achieve the birth of a single, healthy child. In natural fertility, several eggs are often fertilized before one develops and implants in the uterus. Similarly in IVF, to get the best outcome, several eggs must be fertilized to allow for one with normal growth and development to be chosen and transferred into the uterus. Any remaining normally developing embryos can be, at the patient’s request and consent, frozen for later use. The best-developing embryo will be transferred into a patient for an attempt at a pregnancy while the rest are frozen for use, in case the first one does not develop into a live birth, or the patient later desires another child later.  By insisting that these very different biological entities are legally equivalent, the best state-of-the-art fertility care will be made unavailable to the people of Alabama. No healthcare provider will be willing to provide treatments if those treatments may lead to civil or criminal charges.

If the policy outcomes mandated under this decision stand, the consequences will be profound. Modern fertility care will be unavailable to the people of Alabama, needlessly blocking them from building the families they want. Young physicians will choose not to come to the state for training or to begin their practice. Existing clinics will be forced to choose between providing sub-optimal patient care or shutting their doors. 

The choice to build a family is a fundamental right for all Americans, regardless of where they live. We cannot, therefore, allow this dangerous precedent of judicial overreach with national implications to go unchecked.

We call on the people of Alabama to demand that their elected officials ensure that Alabama’s citizens are not victims of political and ideological whims. To our members in the state: We will not rest until your ability to provide patients with the best care is restored.”

For almost a century, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has been the global leader in multidisciplinary reproductive medicine research, ethical practice, and education. ASRM impacts reproductive care and science worldwide by creating funding opportunities for advancing reproduction research and discovery, by providing evidence-based education and public health information, and by advocating for reproductive health care professionals and the patients they serve. With members in more than 100 countries, the Society is headquartered in Washington, DC, with additional operations in Birmingham, AL. www.asrm.org 

For media inquiries regarding this press release contact:

Sean Tipton
ASRM Chief Advocacy and Policy Officer
E: stipton@asrm.org

Anna Hovey
Advocacy Engagement Specialist
E: ahovey@asrm.org 

J. Benjamin Younger Office of Public Affairs 
726 7th St. SE
Washington, DC 20003
Tel: (202) 863-2494

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