Hospital at Center of Alabama Embryo Ruling Is Ending I.V.F. Services

A Mobile, Ala., hospital at the center of a State Supreme Court ruling that found that frozen embryos could be considered children said on Wednesday that it would no longer provide in vitro fertilization lab services after this year.

In an email explaining the decision, Hannah Peterson, a spokeswoman for the Infirmary Health hospital system, cited “pending litigation and the lack of clarity of the recently passed I.V.F. legislation in the state of Alabama.”

It was not immediately clear what effect the decision would have on patients seeking I.V.F. treatment. The fertility clinic that leases space in the hospital and uses its lab services said it would relocate.

But the announcement added a new layer to the confusion and apprehension that has hung over patients since the February court ruling, which led the Mobile clinic and others in the state to temporarily suspend I.V.F. treatments.

Infirmary Health and the clinic, the Center for Reproductive Medicine, have been embroiled in legal turmoil since three couples sued them over the accidental destruction of their frozen embryos in 2020.

The State Supreme Court ruling was a victory for the couples, allowing them to proceed with their wrongful-death claims with the court’s assertion that frozen embryos could legally be considered children. A second lawsuit was filed against both the hospital and the clinic in the weeks after the decision.

In the wake of the ruling, Alabama lawmakers scrambled to pass legislation that would shield clinics from criminal or civil liability. The new law does not apply to any embryo-related lawsuits in progress before it was enacted, including the Mobile case.

With the suits against it still to be resolved, the hospital said on Wednesday that it would no longer offer I.V.F. treatment services after Dec. 31.

The Center for Reproductive Medicine said in a separate statement that it had also resumed treatment and would relocate its work to new facilities in Mobile and Daphne, Ala.

The new locations, the center said, would allow it to continue a “mission of helping individuals and couples achieve their dreams of starting or expanding their families.”

The hospital’s decision also underscored concerns that the new Alabama law had not gone far enough to adequately protect access to I.V.F. treatments, given that it did not address the question of whether frozen embryos should be considered children. Legal experts warned that the law might face additional constitutional challenges.

Doctors, I.V.F. patients and their supporters in Alabama have begun pushing for lawmakers in Washington to codify federal protections for I.V.F. and other fertility treatments.

But with a divided Congress and Republicans torn between pledges to protect life starting at conception and defend access to I.V.F., it is unlikely that legislation will move quickly.

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