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Alabama patient says embryo ruling has "derailed a lot of hope" as hospital halts IVF treatments

IVF concerns after Alabama ruling
Alabama Supreme Court ruling on frozen embryos sparks IVF concerns 02:46

Alabama's largest hospital is pausing all IVF treatments after the state's supreme court ruled last week that frozen embryos created through in vitro fertilization, or IVF, are considered children under state law — leaving patients struggling to have a child in limbo. 

Jasmine York, 34, turned to IVF to get pregnant, but now her dream of having another child has come to a sudden halt after the hospital called to inform her the treatments are being put on hold. 

"I'm angry, I'm sad, I'm a whole slew of things," she told CBS News. "It's completely just derailed a lot of hope." 

After multiple ectopic pregnancies that left her with no fallopian tubes, York says IVF is her last hope to have another baby. 

"There is no other way," she says. "We want to grow our family. It would mean the world to everyone around me."

The University of Alabama at Birmingham's Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility says it is halting IVF treatments while it assesses the impact of the court's ruling.

"We are saddened that this will impact our patients' attempt to have a baby through IVF, but we must evaluate the potential that our patients and our physicians could be prosecuted criminally or face punitive damages for following the standard of care for IVF treatments," Savannah Koplon, a spokesperson for the university, said in an email Wednesday. 

On Thursday, a second clinic, Alabama Fertility Specialists, also curtailed IVF treatments. 

"We have made the impossibly difficult decision to hold new IVF treatments due to the legal risk to our clinic and our embryologists," the practice wrote. "We are contacting patients that will be affected today to find solutions for them and we are working as hard as we can to alert our legislators as to the far reaching negative impact of this ruling on the women of Alabama."

Dr. Mamie McLean, a doctor at Alabama Fertility, says she's been telling patients there remains a lot of uncertainty. 

"We're not certain what is safe and legal for us to do with regards to IVF," she said. "We're taking this day by day. Ultimately, we're worried there are going to be fewer babies born in Alabama because of this ruling."

The ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court allowed families to sue a fertility clinic for wrongful death after several embryos were accidentally destroyed. "The Wrongful Death of a Minor Act applies to all unborn children, regardless of their location," including "unborn children who are located outside of a biological uterus at the time they are killed," the ruling said.

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Greg Cook wrote, "No court — anywhere in the country — has reached the conclusion the main opinion reaches," adding that it "almost certainly ends the creation of frozen embryos through in vitro fertilization (IVF) in Alabama."

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley said in an interview with Gayle King on CNN's "King Charles" that she agrees "an embryo is considered an unborn baby."

But York sees it differently.

"These are not living children. If they were, things would be a lot different in my world and all of these other women's worlds," she says. "We want living children. That's our goal."

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