The New Yorker:

The fertility treatment has wide support, even among Republican voters, but it is at odds with key elements in the pro-life movement.

By Jessica Winter

In the two and a half weeks since the Supreme Court of Alabama issued its startling decision in LePage v. Center for Reproductive Medicine, which endorsed legal personhood for frozen embryos created by in-vitro fertilization, Republican politicians have scrambled to contain the fallout. Although the ruling is the result of pro-life activism that the Party has fuelled for decades, I.V.F. is popular with Republican voters. “We want to make it easier for mothers and fathers to have babies, not harder,” Donald Trump posted on Truth Social after the ruling came down. Mike Johnson, the Speaker of the House, made a statement in praise of I.V.F., even though he is one of a hundred and twenty-four Republican co-sponsors of the Life at Conception Act, which proposes that “the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being at all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization.” Meanwhile, in Alabama, some clinics paused treatments as they examined their legal liability, and Kay Ivey, the state’s Republican governor, encouraged the state legislature to draft a bill that would effectively sidestep the decision in LePage. I.V.F., Ivey said, helps “to foster a culture of life.” On Thursday, the Alabama legislature advanced a bill that would grant fertility clinics “civil and criminal immunity for death or damage to an embryo.”

LePage v. Center for Reproductive Medicine was brought by three couples against their I.V.F. clinic, which was accused of negligence in storing their embryos. A patient at the hospital where the embryos were housed wandered into the storage area, grabbed the embryos, and, having sustained freezer burns to their hands, dropped them on the floor. The plaintiffs brought claims under Alabama’s Wrongful Death of a Minor statute—even though, as the Alabama Supreme Court noted in its decision, each of the couples had made contractual provisions for destroying the embryos electively. (One couple agreed to dispose of any embryos that were unused after five years, and the other two arranged for leftover embryos to be donated to medical research.) If life begins at conception—and, in the chambers of Alabama’s highest court, it does—then any end of such a life is wrongful, even if a parent consents to it. The Alabama opinion implicitly rebukes the plaintiffs even as it decides in their favor.

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