Alabama Supreme Court IVF Ruling: What frozen embryo ruling means for Georgia?

Georgia residents and healthcare providers are considering how an Alabama Supreme Court ruling may impact advanced fertility care. 

Last week, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos have the same status as children. 

The court’s opinion referred to the embryos created during the in vitro fertilization process, known as IVF, as "extrauterine children."

"This ruling is going to have profound downstream implications for IVF clinics, their staff, and their patients," Dr. Paul Dudley of Pinnacle Fertility in Atlanta told FOX 5. 

Will Alabama ruling impact IVF patients elsewhere?

Dr. Dudley has been serving patients through IVF for more than two decades. 

The doctor expects the ruling will result in an influx of patients and staff to Georgia from Alabama’s IVF clinics.

Already, the University of Alabama at Birmingham health system has paused IVF for fear of criminal prosecution. 


"Ultimately, this harms the greater population of Alabama because individuals who want to have a child are highly motivated. All this is going to do is make accessing care more inconvenient. It’s not as though they’re not going to be able to access it," Dr. Dudley said. 

In a statement, Zemmie Fleck, Executive Director of Georgia Right to Life, said: 

"The Alabama Supreme Court decision ruling that embryos that have been created and frozen are persons is a sound biological fact. DNA does not lie. Children who have been created and cryopreserved should not be treated as objects, but as persons deserving the same protection under the law as born persons."

Is an embryo a person?

The personhood classification raises logistical concerns for Dr. Dudley. 

If an embryo is a person, I can think of two obvious ways in which it impacts aspects of advanced fertility care. One of those is embryo disposition. The other is human error," Dr. Dudley told FOX 5.

Embryo disposition refers to the choice patients must make regarding what to do with their embryos.

A patient can choose to transfer the embryo to themselves, donate the embryo to another family, donate the embryo to scientific research, or destroy the embryo.

"If an embryo is a person, then presumably those two latter options are no longer options," Dr. Dudley said.


The doctor also worries the legal liability embryologists now face in Alabama may force them to procure work in another state.

"It is inevitable that in the course of managing thousands of embryos, mistakes can and will happen that could result in the tragic but inadvertent destruction of embryos. This ruling opens the door to both the clinic and the embryologist being held personally responsible," Dr. Dudley told FOX 5.

Will Albama's embryo ruling impact Georgians?

Finally, the doctor worries the ruling could have a chilling effect on Georgia residents who are considering IVF for fear the state may pursue a similar path.

FOX 5 asked Georgia Right to Life if the group had any interest in pursuing, either via the courts or legislature, a similar outcome to the Alabama ruling. 

A spokesperson responded, yes. Saying, "Whether in or outside of the womb, all pre-born persons deserve equal protection."

Of the suggestion, Dr. Dudley told FOX 5, "It’s very concerning to me. On the other hand, I do think that, generally speaking, level heads prevail."

He then drew a direct line from the latest action in Alabama to the need to engage with the electoral process, urging his patients and others to "talk to their lawmaker and vote. Think about these things when you’re casting your vote at the ballot box."