Berliner Boersenzeitung - Republicans start to back off controversial Alabama IVF ruling

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Republicans start to back off controversial Alabama IVF ruling
Republicans start to back off controversial Alabama IVF ruling / Photo: Julia Nikhinson - AFP/File

Republicans start to back off controversial Alabama IVF ruling

A wave of Republicans, including Donald Trump on Friday, are vowing to protect IVF in the wake of an Alabama court ruling threatening access to the procedure, in what could become a galvanizing issue in the 2024 election.

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Democrats have made the preservation of reproductive rights a central part of their campaign, with women in conservative states that have strict abortion bans facing problems accessing emergency care for life-threatening pregnancies.

"Under my leadership, the Republican Party will always support the creation of strong, thriving, healthy American families," said Trump, the frontrunner for his party's presidential nomination, on his Truth Social platform on Friday.

He also called on the Alabama legislature to "find an immediate solution to preserve the availability of IVF."

The Alabama Supreme Court's decision last Friday came in response to a wrongful death lawsuit brought by three couples against a fertility clinic after a patient "managed to wander into" a cryogenic nursery and dropped several frozen embryos, destroying them.

A lower court ruled the frozen embryos could not be considered a "person" or "child" and dismissed the claim, but the top court disagreed, in a 7-2 decision sprinkled with quotes from the Bible.

At least three fertility clinics in the state quickly announced they were pausing IVF treatments in light of the new legal risks.

The state's Republican governor Kay Ivey has issued a statement saying she is working with lawmakers to craft a bill "protect these families and life itself," though it was not immediately clear what the solution would entail.

Meanwhile, Alabama's attorney general, Republican Steve Marshall, has "no intention of using the recent Alabama Supreme Court decision as a basis for prosecuting IVF families or providers," chief counsel Katherine Robertson said in a statement Friday.

- Republicans in a bind -

Republicans have had to tread a fine line after the US Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to an abortion in 2022.

The long-cherished conservative ideal has proven detrimental among independent voters, and the ongoing fallout from reversing abortion rights was seen as a key reason Democrats fared far better than expected in the 2022 election.

Trump himself has assiduously avoided taking a public position on a 16-week national abortion ban proposed by Republicans, wary of further galvanizing Democrats.

Experts say the 2022 US Supreme Court ruling effectively granted states the final say on questions of personhood, paving the way for wide-reaching impacts on other areas of reproductive health, including in vitro fertilization.

President Joe Biden on Thursday slammed the Alabama court ruling as "outrageous and unacceptable."

"Make no mistake: this is a direct result of the overturning of Roe v. Wade," added the Democrat, referencing the legal case that previously protected abortion as a national right.

The Alabama ruling has also fired up reproductive rights groups.

Shaina Goodman of the National Partnership for Women & Families said she was among the one in five married women in the United States of reproductive age who had faced fertility problems and chose to pursue IVF.

"The court weaponizes the psychological toll of fertility treatment in service of an extremist, ideological project to undermine reproductive freedom and autonomy," she wrote in a blog post.

(P.Werner--BBZ)