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Families impacted by Alabama IVF ruling head to state Capitol

Many families are making the decision to move their embryos out of the state due to the uncertainty of what will happen to them.
Families impacted by Alabama IVF ruling head to state capitol
Posted at 6:33 PM, Feb 28, 2024

The years of secondary infertility for Kristia Rumbley and her husband were lonely ones. When they ultimately decided to utilize in vitro fertilization technology — or IVF — they kept it quiet.

"My family didn't know, my friends didn't know, very few people knew about it at all. It's just there's a lot of judgment around it," said Rumbley. 

Now with four children — three from IVF — they know their family is complete, but they still have embryos left over, and they're not quite ready to discard them.

"I've seen them, I've seen what they can become. They're a little hope, you know, and they're potential children. It takes a while to make that decision to say Okay, 'I'm ready to let this go,'" Rumbley said. 

Rumbley and her husband are worried about what the state of Alabama could do with her embryos in the wake of the state's Supreme Court decision to call those frozen embryos children. They've decided to move them to Massachusetts.

"I don't trust what decisions could be made for them. I know it's far-fetched, but I feel much better with them in a place where I know nothing will happen to them," said Rumbley.

But for those in the thick of this process — like Elizabeth Goldman — moving those embryos isn't possible. She's one of the nation's only uterus-transplant patients, with an entire team of doctors here in Alabama. She successfully had baby Zari Grace four months ago, but is only allowed to carry at most two children before she'll have to undergo a full hysterectomy. So the clock is ticking.

"Since it's not a lifesaving transplant and not 100% necessary, basically, it could be at risk if I start to have a decline in any kind of health," said Goldman.

The plan was to begin the IVF process again in April — but it is now very much on hold.

"It's almost like you're waiting for another shoe to drop, you know, like this came out, this ruling came out, then the clinic closed on Tuesday. And then you just don't know what's going to happen in the future," said Goldman.

Latoria Beasley just had her March 4 transfer canceled after taking medication for months and spending thousands of dollars on it.

"I'm just managing my expectations, you know, knowing that it may not happen," said Beasley.

Rumbley moderates an Alabama infertility group on Facebook, and she says there are so many women like her living with uncertainty in their state. She says the group has doubled in size since the ruling and is flowing with questions.

Many of these women and their children — like Merrill Story — were outside the State House on Wednesday.

"It's very emotional for me. It's like someone telling me that you shouldn't have existed," said Story. 

The group met with lawmakers and pushed for protections for IVF families. It's unclear that they'll get that from the supermajority Republican-led legislature. But Rumbley says it shouldn't be a partisan issue.

"It's going to affect you. No one is off limits," said Rumbley. 

SEE MORE: Alabama lawmakers introduce bills to protect IVF treatments

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