IVF conversations spike after Alabama state Supreme Court decision

In mid-February, the Supreme Court of Alabama declared that embryos created through in vitro fertilization (IVF) can be considered children. Within a week of the ruling, several fertility clinics in Alabama paused their IVF treatments due to concern over the potential liability of physicians and laboratory staff when handling embryos. Since then, state lawmakers quickly passed a bill protecting IVF providers from wrongful death lawsuits and criminal prosecution, and some IVF treatments resumed, but confusion remains. 

In the wake of the ruling, conversations about IVF spiked both in Alabama and nationally. Many social media posts viewed the embryo ruling in the context of the Dobbs v. Jackson decision from 2022, and trending narratives often reference value-based religious statements and political opinions. From a public health perspective, confusion and misinterpretations about IVF also spiked. Google searches on “What is IVF” and “What is an embryo” were some of the top reproductive health-related searches in the last two weeks of February, peaking around February 23, with a second spike around March 8, when the IVF “immunity law” passed. 

Recommendation: In Alabama, questions remain for patients using or considering IVF, and public health officials may encounter public confusion over what is currently legal. Staying up to date on trending narratives and preparing for questions about IVF and fertility is recommended. For more information and a breakdown of state-by-state data on the utilization of infertility treatments, check out this recently updated fact sheet from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.