February 29, 2024

The Harmful Lies About Alabama’s IVF Ruling

By spreading falsehoods about the meaning of a recent Alabama Supreme Court ruling, leftists are scaring those who most need guidance and reassurance.

After the embryos from three couples who were undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments in order to conceive were accidentally destroyed due to clinical negligence, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that embryos are children under the state’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act.

The ruling should help prevent such carelessness. However, the narrative from both the Left and the Right has been rooted in fear, hysteria, and false claims about the purpose of this ruling and its potential impact on both the patients and the IVF clinics.

During a press conference on the matter, Illinois Democrat Senator Tammy Duckworth did not hold back, as she dishonestly led her audience to believe that this decision would land couples already sensitive to this issue behind bars if they sought help through an IVF clinic. Using her own painful experience with infertility and miscarriage to appeal to her audience, she then made completely inaccurate assertions of what the bill would mean for others in the same position: “It’s a little personal to me when a majority male Court suggests that people like me who are not able to have kids without the help of modern medicine should be in jail cells and not taking care of their babies in nurseries.”

Those propagating these erroneous messages count on the fact that the vast majority of people do not read most pieces of legislation or court rulings, and they largely rely on reporting from the media and government officials to shape their opinions.

Even more frustrating is that many on the Right, including former President Donald Trump, seem to be shaping their own responses to address the Democrats’ false narrative by reassuring the public of their support for IVF treatment rather than addressing the lies that are being spread.

Trump took to Truth Social to assure voters that he does not support limiting the availability of fertility treatments — something the Alabama ruling does not do — or the act of threatening providers who offer it. “Like the OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of Americans,” Trump declared, “including the VAST MAJORITY of Republicans, Conservatives, Christians, and Pro-Life Americans, I strongly support the availability of IVF for couples who are trying to have a precious baby. Today, I am calling on the Alabama Legislature to act quickly to find an immediate solution to preserve the availability of IVF in Alabama.”

Choosing to counter a dishonest take on this sensitive subject did little to offer reassurance. Instead, it furthered the lie that this is what the Alabama ruling suggests.

Unfortunately, because Duckworth’s report on this matter is false, and because Trump’s misguided consolations back the most common version of the story that is making its way across the Internet, it is virtually impossible to rein people back in. And it’s the reaction to the narrative that is causing the most harm to both clinicians and hopeful parents.

The facts of the ruling are simple: By recognizing embryos as minors under the Wrongful Death of a Minor Act and the accidental destruction of said embryos as a “wrongful death,” the ruling gives couples who lose their embryos in this way legal recourse similar to that of a parent who loses a child due to malpractice in any other medical setting.

If the embryos are not recognized as human beings, however, then there is no basis for wrongdoing and no foundation for legal action.

This ruling is a protection for every IVF couple, and it serves as reassurance for all parties involved — including the embryos, which should be respected and treated as children because that is what they are. Rulings such as this encourage IVF couples to make decisions throughout their fertility journey as if they were giving care directives for a child of any age, and they ask providers to reassure their patients that the treatment of the embryo means as much to their clients as would a child in a hospital bed.

Medical providers who take on these cases already understand the risks of doing so, and if they are confident in their practices and security protocols, then they have nothing to worry about.

The rational response to this decision should be for medical providers to redouble security, tighten their policies (particularly regarding the ability for random patients to wander the halls and gain access to secure areas), and reassure their patients that they have their best interests at heart.

But we are an increasingly irrational society, and the response has been as such. The University of Alabama at Birmingham was the first to put a halt to its in vitro fertilization services, quickly followed by Alabama Fertility Services. These organizations must have been amongst the audience for Duckworth’s scaremongering speech because they, too, are now under the false impression that even offering IVF as an option automatically puts them at risk of criminal charges.

Of course, as it is with all deceptive narratives these days, once those at the top have benefited politically, it is innocent people who deal with the fallout of the power struggle after the dust has settled.

Those most affected are couples who desperately want children of their own. The access has not been limited by a court ruling but rather by fearmongering and by power-hungry politicians who can’t help but exploit even the most sensitive challenges for their own personal gain.

A bonus “win” for Democrats would be to convince those on the pro-life side that perhaps their advocates are taking things too far, thereby pulling some of our own to the middle of the fight or even to the left side entirely.

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