At least two major embryo shipping companies have temporarily halted business in Alabama, after the state’s Supreme Court ruled that embryos created through in vitro fertilization are considered children. This will make it harder for IVF patients in Alabama to pursue that health care, even out of state.
Cryoport, one of the leading embryo shippers, told Alabamian fertility clinics on Friday that it is “pausing” shipments into and out of the state until it determines the effect of the court ruling, The New York Times reported.
“Until the company has further clarity on the decision and what it means for Cryoport, clinics and intended parents, it is pausing all activity in Alabama until further notice,” the company said in an email received by a clinic and shared with the Times.
A source familiar with the situation, who asked to remain anonymous, told The New Republic that Reprotech, another major embryo shipper, is also pausing shipping in and out of Alabama. TNR reached out to both Reprotech and Cryoport for confirmation but had not heard back at time of publication.
At least one other embryo shipping company will continue to operate in Alabama, though. The CEO of IVF CRYO, Don Fish, said in a statement Friday that his company “will continue to service patients and clinics in the state of Alabama regardless of the increased legal complexity and risk that our business now take[s] on.”
The Alabama high court’s ruling is only one week old and yet is already kneecapping the state’s fertility industry. The state Supreme Court ruled last week that embryos created through IVF can be considered children and are thus protected under the Wrongful Death of a Minor Act. Since it’s common for fertilized eggs not to survive the IVF process, the ruling puts doctors and clinics at risk of being charged for wrongful death of embryos.
At least three fertility clinics have already ceased IVF treatments to avoid potential legal repercussions. The CDC lists a total of eight clinics in the state that provide assisted reproductive technology services.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s medical school announced Wednesday that it is pausing IVF treatments. The next day, the Center for Reproductive Medicine and Mobile Infirmary Medical Center, which was a defendant in the Supreme Court lawsuit, and Alabama Fertility Specialists announced they were also halting IVF treatment.
Patients could still ship their embryos out of state and continue seeking IVF treatment elsewhere. But if shipping companies keep halting their business, that leaves Alabama IVF patients—who have already invested time, resources, and their own health in the process—few options left.
The president and CEO of Resolve: The National Infertility Association, Barbara Collura, lamented Cryoport’s decision but laid the blame squarely on the state Supreme Court.
“Since the court’s ruling, doctors have been forced to deliver devastating news to their patients, who dream of becoming parents and whose plans are on hold indefinitely, all because of the court’s disregard for science. And now, this slight window of hope for Alabamans currently undergoing IVF to continue their family-building treatment in other states just slammed shut,” Collura said in a statement.
“Thousands of Alabamans trying to build their families are being held hostage by this destructive ruling.”