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University in Alabama halts IVF treatments after court rules embryos are children

BMJ 2024; 384 doi: (Published 22 February 2024) Cite this as: BMJ 2024;384:q468
  1. Janice Hopkins Tanne
  1. New York

The University of Alabama Birmingham, the largest medical centre in the southern state, suspended in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatments after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled on 16 February that frozen embryos were children.12

About 2% of US births—about 97 000 a year—are thought to be from assisted reproductive technologies such as IVF. Often many fertilised embryos are created but only a few are implanted in the uterus in hopes of creating a pregnancy. The rest are stored in freezers for future use, for donations to other couples, for research, or are destroyed if the couples do not plan further pregnancies, do not want to pay storage fees, get divorced, or die.

The Alabama court’s decision that frozen embryos are living children alarmed reproductive medicine experts, lawyers, and abortion rights activists.

Mary Ziegler, a legal …

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