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Ledbetter: IVF is as pro-life as it gets, and the Legislature is committed to protecting it

When the Legislature adjourned for the weekend on February 15th, plenty of challenging issues were already waiting for us to return the following week. The House was preparing for a vote on the CHOOSE Act and other priority items. The Senate was working on issues like election security and legislation dealing with DEI. The session was well underway, and both chambers seemed to have found their respective grooves.

That changed on Friday, February 16th, with the Alabama Supreme Court Ruling on in vitro fertilization (IVF).

The ruling led to a chain reaction of unintended consequences for our state. The first was that it forced many of Alabama’s IVF clinics to shut down overnight. This meant that the hundreds of hopeful parents who had invested their time, money and prayer into this process were put on what could have been an indefinite hold. And finally, the responsibility to fix this issue was shifted to the Legislature. The ball was tossed into our court, and we had to get this right for the people of Alabama.

From the moment I was made aware of this ruling, doing whatever was necessary for Alabama’s IVF clinics to reopen and continue bringing new life into this world became my top priority. This was my responsibility as a lawmaker, but as someone who has family members in this world thanks to God’s grace and IVF, it meant much more. Everyone I have spoken to about this issue, both House and Senate colleagues and constituents alike, share a similar personal attachment.

I have listened to stories of sons, daughters, grandsons and granddaughters conceived through IVF who are beautiful blessings to their families. I also heard from plenty of rightfully scared and angry Alabamians who had a daughter or loved one going through these treatments at the time of the ruling, and their messages were received loud and clear.

While the national media set its sights on criticizing Alabama and politicians in D.C. lined up to take their shots, the Alabama Legislature remained focused and got to work. Instead of adding to the problem, members of the House and Senate dedicated themselves to finding a solution and protecting IVF in our state.

I have always felt that the diverse professional backgrounds we have in the Legislature are one of our strongest features. Like we have many times before, we turned to the members of the Legislature who have professional experience relative to the issue. In this case, Dr. Tim Melson took the lead in the Senate while Rep. Terri Collins coordinated in the House.

In less than a week, both the House and Senate developed a well-coordinated plan to pass companion bills granting our IVF clinics immunity from prosecution. Our goal from the beginning was to pass legislation that cements IVF within Alabama’s culture of life, and immunity protection for clinics gives us time to figure out the best way to do so. It allows our clinics to reopen their doors and continue serving hopeful parents while the men and women of the Legislature navigate a very complex issue.

Alabama’s IVF clinics came under attack 20 days ago. During this time, our people have faced uncertainty, fear and rightfully demanded that we do something about it. Five legislative meeting days later, Governor Ivey signed into law what very well could be the session’s most important bill. This is how government is supposed to work, and I could not be prouder of how the Legislature has handled this issue.

Our people believe in fostering a culture of life, and for many parents, IVF was the miracle that led to their greatest blessing. IVF is as pro-life as it gets, and I am committed to ensuring it is always an available option for the people who call our great state home.

Nathaniel Ledbetter is the Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives, representing the people of District 24. 

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