After Ruling, University of Alabama at Birmingham Health System Pauses I.V.F. Procedures

The University of Alabama at Birmingham health system announced on Wednesday that it was pausing in vitro fertilization treatments as it evaluated the Alabama Supreme Court’s ruling that frozen embryos should be considered children.

“We are saddened that this will impact our patients’ attempt to have a baby through I.V.F.,” a statement from the health system said, “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 I.V.F. treatments.”

The health system’s Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility will continue performing egg retrievals from women seeking fertility treatment, the statement said, but it will not undertake the next steps in the process — combining the eggs with sperm in a lab for fertilization, and allowing embryos to develop — for now.

“Everything through egg retrieval remains in place,” the statement said. “Egg fertilization and embryo development is paused.”

In response to a question, a spokesperson for the health system said that embryo implantation procedures, the final part of the I.V.F. process, had also been paused.

The health system includes the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital, the largest hospital in the state and, according to its website, among the 20 “largest and best equipped” hospitals in the country.

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