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Gov. Greg Abbott signals support for IVF in Texas after Alabama ruling

Abbott stopped short of calling on the Legislature to take actions to protect IVF after a Alabama court ruling threw fertility treatments into legal limbo in that state.
Posted: 11:07 AM, Feb 26, 2024
Updated: 2024-02-26 12:07:22-05
Gov. Greg Abbott speaks about the recent 88th Legislative Session to an audience at the Texas Public Policy Foundation offices in Austin, on June 2, 2023. Abbott recounted policy victories in regards to fentanyl and the border crisis, as well as limiting gender affirming care and banning DEI practices in higher education.

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TEXAS (Texas Tribune) — Gov. Greg Abbott said Sunday that he supports Texas families having access to in vitro fertilization treatments and has “no doubt” the state will address issues raised by a recent controversial court ruling out of Alabama. Abbott did not call on the Legislature to take specific action to protect IVF treatment.

“Texas is a pro-life state, and we want to do everything possible that we can to maintain Texas being a pro life state,” Abbott told CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday. “But at the very same time … we as a state want to ensure that we promote life, we bring more life into the world and we empower parents to be able to have more children.”

Last week, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos can be considered children under a state law that allows parents to sue for wrongful death of minor children.

“Unborn children are ‘children’,” Alabama Supreme Court Justice Jay Mitchell wrote in the ruling, “without exception based on developmental stage, physical location, or any other ancillary characteristics.”

The case focused on three families who accuse a fertility clinic of failing to protect their frozen embryos. But the ruling has had much wider implications, as several health care systems in Alabama paused IVF treatments and some families raced to move frozen embryos out of state.

The ruling applies only to Alabama and does not impact the legality of IVF treatment in Texas. But it has opened thorny questions about “fetal personhood” — the legal concept that a fetus should be afforded the same rights as a living child — that many Republicans have tried to sidestep, especially in the lead-up to the 2024 presidential elections.

In Sunday’s interview, Abbott voiced his support for former President Donald Trump’s statement on the issue, in which Trump said he strongly supports the availability of IVF “in every State in America” for couples “who are trying to have a precious baby.”

"Today, I am calling on the Alabama Legislature to act quickly to find an immediate solution to preserve the availability of IVF in Alabama,” Trump wrote on Truth Social. “The Republican Party should always be on the side of the Miracle of Life - and the side of Mothers, Fathers, and their Beautiful Babies. IVF is an important part of that, and our Great Republican Party will always be with you, in your quest, for the ULTIMATE JOY IN LIFE!"

Abbott said Texas wants to make it easier, not harder, for people to have babies, and IVF “is a way of giving life to even more babies.”

“I think the goal is to make sure that we can find a pathway to ensure that parents who otherwise may not have the opportunity to have a child will be able to have access to the IVF process and become parents and give life to babies,” Abbott said.

But Abbott, a former Texas Supreme Court justice, said there were specific scenarios and fact questions that would need to be parsed, including what happens to the frozen embryos if the person who created them died or the couple got divorced.

“These are very complex issues where I'm not sure everybody has really thought about what all the potential problems are,” Abbott said. “And as a result, no one really knows what the potential answers are.”

In March, a Galveston man sued three women under the state’s wrongful death statute, accusing them of helping his wife terminate her pregnancy. While the case does not focus on IVF, it raises many of the same questions about whether a pregnancy receives the same rights as a living child under state law. The case, which was brought by former Texas Solicitor General Jonathan Mitchell and state Rep. Briscoe Cain, remains pending in state district court.


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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2024/02/26/texas-greg-abbott-ivf/.

"Gov. Greg Abbott signals support for IVF in Texas after Alabama ruling" was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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