Society of Reproductive Biologists and Technologists (SRBT) Condemns Recent Court Decision in Alabama

Statement attributable to Marina Gvakharia, MD, PhD, President


February 21, 2024
For Immediate Release

Washington, DC – The recent ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court that frozen embryos are legally considered people has sparked controversy and concern among fertility patients, doctors, embryologists, and scientists alike. This decision, while rooted in legal interpretation, stands in stark contrast to scientific understanding and the experiences of individuals navigating fertility treatments.

Scientists and reproductive experts around the globe have long emphasized the critical distinction between fertilized oocytes and fully developed individuals. Frozen embryos, created through in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures, are a crucial aspect of fertility treatments, offering hope to individuals and couples struggling with infertility. From a scientific perspective, embryos represent a stage in the continuum of human development, but they do not possess the attributes of personhood. Recognizing this crucial distinction is paramount to ensuring that legal decisions align with scientific understanding and respect individuals' reproductive rights.

The Alabama ruling has significant implications for those of us who work as clinical embryologists.

Clinical embryologists are entrusted with the delicate task of assisting patients through the IVF process, including the creation, preservation, and eventual use of frozen embryos. As individuals responsible for the handling and storage of frozen embryos, embryologists will now face uncertainty, ethical dilemmas, and potentially serious legal ramifications surrounding their day-to-day professional practices, which will make it impossible for them to provide the best evidence-based care to the patients who are so desperately seeking to have children.

We stand with Alabama’s embryologists during this difficult time, as well as the individuals and couples who dream of building a family.

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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