March 07, 2024

Sen. Tammy Duckworth says Alabama's new law protecting IVF "does not go far enough"

Sen. Tammy Duckworth introduced legislation in 2022 that would create federal protections for IVF access nationwide.

Source: CBS Evening News


Birmingham, Alabama — A champagne toast was held Thursday at Alabama Fertility in Birmingham, celebrating the return of in vitro fertilization procedures one day after the Alabama legislature passed legislation to protect IVF services.

Nearly half the state's clinics had paused procedures after a controversial ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court last month determined that frozen embryos are considered children.

Three embryo transfers were performed at Alabama Fertility on Thursday, just hours after the new legislation shielding clinics from criminal liability was signed into law by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey.

"Incredibly exciting," Dr. Mamie McLean of Alabama Fertility said about seeing patients. "…We were able to talk about IVF care, we were able to timeline, lots of smiles, lots of hope and optimism." 

Cody Carnley's embryo transfer at the clinic had been canceled following the court ruling. They have a toddler through IVF and want to grow their family.

"We are hopeful that that transfer will actually be able to take place at the end of March or the first of April," Carnley told CBS News.

But reproductive rights advocates say the law is just a fast fix and is likely to face legal challenges because it does not directly address the court's ruling.

"The Alabama law does not go far enough," Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois told CBS News.

Following the ruling, Duckworth re-introduced a bill to give federal protection to IVF services. She had both her daughters via the procedure and wants it protected for everyone.

Duckworth had first introduced the legislation, known as the Access to Family Building Act, with Sen. Patty Murray of Washington in 2022. The bill would create federal protections for IVF access nationwide, overriding state limits.

Duckworth in 2022 attempted to bring the legislation to a vote using unanimous consent — which can be halted by opposition from just a single lawmaker. At the time, Senate Republicans blocked the vote.

The vote was blocked for a second time last month by Senate Republicans when Duckworth again asked for unanimous consent.

"It (the Alabama law) does not address the issue of: is a fertilized egg a human being, an 'extrauterine child' in the words of the Alabama Supreme Court, with equal or even greater rights than the person who is going to carry it," Duckworth told CBS News on Thursday. "It doesn't address that issue."

By:  Janet Shamlian