Dr. Kapadia discusses the Alabama IVF ruling


"As most of us know, 1 in 8 couples undergo issues pertaining to fertility, and in about half of those cases, there is a male factor involved, resulting in infertility," says Akash Kapadia, MD.

In this video, Akash Kapadia, MD, discusses the recent ruling by the Supreme Court of Alabama stating that embryos created through in vitro fertilization (IVF) should be considered children. Kapadia is a urologist at Georgia Urology in Atlanta.

Video Transcript:

Could you discuss the recent ruling in Alabama regarding IVF?

A recent passing in a case in the Supreme Court of Alabama has deemed that embryos created through IVF to have personhood or be minor children with livelihood. This has created a significant impact on how IVF care is delivered and the processes and protocols of IVF itself. In part, this law creates an issue as it comes to the management and potential destruction of embryos after use in that the destruction of embryos may technically be considered wrongful death of a minor child. This is the stem of the issue at hand from the Supreme Court ruling.

What are some of the implications of this ruling?

The way this law impacts delivery of health care is pretty significant. It creates issues when it comes to not only creation and storage of embryos, but obviously, as I mentioned, possible donation of embryos for research as well as destruction of embryos after the couples have completed use and completed their families. The impact of this is tremendous, as most of us have seen take place already. Many, if not most, IVF clinics in Alabama have closed their services due to serious risk of civil and criminal lawsuits.

This in turn has created significant downstream effects, mainly for the patients themselves. This creates significant loss of access to good health care for patients. It leaves a lot of patients that are in the middle of IVF or fertility care with nowhere to go. In patients that have already started or have already completed IVF care and have embryos stored in Alabama, this causes them to suddenly look for a different home for their embryos, with the liability and the risk of potentially undergoing a lawsuit, both civil and criminal. Not only does this impact patients, but for the providers themselves, there's obviously a liability issue, which in turn results in them closing doors to patients and certainly affects livelihood for the providers themselves because of this.

In terms of how it impacts patients along with loss of access to care, this also results in a dramatic increase in cost of a very necessary service where patients are trying to fulfill their dreams of parenthood. Not being able to get care locally in their state, they may be seeking care outside of their states in multiple areas, which dramatically increases cost for them.

As for how this affects urologists, urologists and particularly male fertility specialists play a critical role in the delivery of IVF care. As most of us know, 1 in 8 couples undergo issues pertaining to fertility, and in about half of those cases, there is a male factor involved, resulting in infertility. In some of those cases, having the male fertility specialists provide that care is critical. This particularly affects males that have conditions such as azoospermia or even having a vasectomy that would potentially require sperm retrieval for IVF.

Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

The legislature in the state of Alabama has introduced and passed a law that protects both patients as well as providers involved in in vitro fertilization, or IVF, from any civil or criminal lawsuit as it pertains to the recent rulings of an embryo being considered a minor child. I do think this is a certainly a step in the right direction, and I'm hopeful that this does provide the much needed protection and safety of both patients and providers. It remains to be seen how this law will be practiced and how the delivery of the law will impact how these things proceed. But I'm hopeful that this will provide much needed reprieve to a lot of the providers that have paused their fertility care.

This transcription has been edited for clarity.

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