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Sebastian's Point

Sebastian's Point is a weekly column written by one of our members regarding timely events or analysis of relevant ideas, which impact the Culture of Life. All regular members are invited to submit a column for publication at soss.submissions@gmail.com. Columns should be between 800 to 1300 words and comply with the high standards expected in academic writing, including proper citations of authority or assertions referred to in your column. Please see, Submission Requirements for more details.

Alabama and the Right to Life of IVF Embryonic Children

Joe Kral, M.A.

President

Society of St. Sebastian   |  10 March 2024

 

It is not uncommon for people to equate In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) with children. Society hears and reads about couples who struggle to have children and then have their desires granted by IVF. In particular, many people will read articles about celebrities who have taken advantage of this method to produce children. In many ways, it has become ingrained in the culture of many Westernized countries. Because a baby is produced, many simply do not think of the various procedures and actions that are done to make that child. Most see the child as the end result and a good. As a result, much of the IVF industry has been left to its own devices and has been largely unregulated.

 

Last month, the Alabama Supreme Court made quite the landmark ruling regarding IVF embryonic children.[i] In essence, the Court ruled that when it came to the state’s laws on the death of minor persons an embryonic child can be considered a minor. This allowed the parents to continue with their civil suit against the IVF clinic for negligently allowing their embryonic children to be destroyed. Of course, both pro-abortion and pro-IVF advocates lamented the ruling. Many argue that this pushed a woman’s rights further back by recognizing the personhood of the embryonic child. Others comment that it stops IVF from helping couples struggling with infertility. Surprisingly, even one prominent conservative pundit also joined in the chorus believing this to be a horrible decision.[ii]

 

As a result, the Alabama Legislature hastily passed a bill that ultimately allowed the IVF industry to have blanket immunity from either the intentional or unintentional destruction of these embryonic children.[iii] The passage and signing of this bill should be viewed as a disgrace by any lawmaker who refers to himself or herself as pro-life. But what language within the bill dictates this to be bad law? It can be found in section one of the bill which stipulates,

 

Related to in vitro fertilization and notwithstanding any provision of law, including any cause of action provided in Chapter 5 of Title 6, Code of Alabama 1975, no action, suit, or criminal prosecution for the damage to or death of an embryo shall be brought or maintained against any individual or entity when providing or receiving goods or services related to in vitro fertilization.[iv]

 

This one section allows the IVF industry to carelessly regard human life at its earliest stages. The fact that the Alabama Legislature even passed such an atrocity pinpoints the absolute ignorance that pro-life legislators have of the IVF industry itself. Pro-Life lawmakers ought to protect life, not callously allow threats to nascent human life to continue. Again, there is much work that needs to be done to educate legislators on the threats to human life that the IVF industry poses. Katie Breckenridge, of Them Before Us, cites in an article that only 7% of embryonic children made make it to birth.[v] Sadly, most of these embryonic children are either destroyed, cryopreserved, or even abandoned. Those that are destroyed are destroyed from reasons related to the parents no longer wanting them, they did not make the genetic “grade”, or even destroyed during medical research. Some even die from the thawing process.

 

The fact, that this information is not more readily known amongst pro-life lawmakers is an unfortunate failure on the part of the pro-life movement. Not only does this present a failure on the part of the movement that is there to protect life, but no adequate messaging went out to show how this bill does not protect the parents’ interest in their embryonic children. So, this newly minted law in Alabama is a failure on two grounds: 1) it does not protect the embryonic child from any sort of harm in any way and 2) it fails to protect the parents who become victims as well when an IVF clinic is negligent with their child. This bill is not about protecting IVF for parents, it is about merely protecting the IVF industry from any sort of regulation or oversight.

 

Fundamentally, legislators will need to learn that, like the abortion industry, the IVF industry simply wants no government regulation. Furthermore, lawmakers will need to also know that, like the abortion industry, the IVF industry uses dehumanizing language that paints the embryonic child as sub-human. Why do they do this? Again, much like the abortion industry, it lets them continue to perform immoral acts that allow for the destruction and debasement of human life at its earliest stages of existence. Simply, put, if most pro-life legislators truly knew what the IVF industry does, they would likely want to act on their pro-life convictions and try to pass legislation that is in conformity with justice for the embryonic child.

 

Instead of being reactionary, it was a time for Alabama legislators to ponder the situation. Instead of bowing to political pressure from the far left, some conservative pundits, and the IVF industry itself, these lawmakers should have done some research into why this was such a fair decision by their supreme court. The fact is the Alabama Supreme Court did not prohibit the practice of IVF within the state. It did protect the parent’s right to protect their child from negligent actions on the part of the IVF clinic. It also protected those embryonic children as persons under the wrongful death statutes within the state. Now other states are looking to pass such legislation that enshrines the IVF industry’s ability to harm without repercussion.

 

The pro-life movement has reached a legislative crossroads and the Alabama Supreme Court decision was the impetus. Legislators want to “protect” IVF, so pro-life organizations are going to need to educate them on what it takes to make embryonic children and what happens to those embryonic children once they are made. Pro-life organizations will need to remain strong and dictate the terms of what the legislation should look like if it is to remain pro-life and advance a Culture of Life. Simply put, a bill like Alabama’s is not pro-life since it allows the IVF industry to continue to destroy human life at its earliest stages with impunity. Just because babies are made by the IVF industry, does not mean they are pro-life. The pro-life movement must dictate what is pro-life to legislators, not the IVF industry.

 

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[i] See LePage v. The Center for Reproductive Medicine, SC-2022-0579.

[ii] See Media Matters, “Sean Hannity Says Democrats Will ‘Demagogue’ the Alabama Embryo Ruling That Imperils IVF,” February 26, 2024, https://www.mediamatters.org/sean-hannity/sean-hannity-says-democrats-will-demagogue-alabama-embryo-ruling-imperils-ivf, retrieved on March 10, 2024.

[iii] SB 15. You may review the bill at https://www.legislature.state.al.us/pdf/SearchableInstruments/2024RS/V1YMPLL-1.pdf?fbclid=IwAR2xejX6aN43eptzoWbvlUP_OJixC-3YU2Ltrp_el66WPhNEOpUGxvpeBHo.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Breckenridge, Katie, “IVF & Abortion Trigger Bans: The Reality that not all Prenatal Life is Protected,” Sebastians Point, December 11, 2022, https://www.societyofstsebastian.org/ivf-abortion-bans-breckenridge, retrieved on March 10, 2024.

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