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Alabama Supreme Court’s Ruling: A Harmful and Dangerous Decision for Access to Reproductive Rights


SILVER SPRING, MD – The American Nurses Association (ANA) is deeply concerned by the implications of Alabama Supreme Court’s recent decision which asserts that embryos are the legal equivalent of minor children and are protected under the state’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act. ANA is considering the negative impacts this ruling will have on access to essential reproductive health in Alabama, particularly for families working to overcome infertility with methods like in-vitro fertilization (IVF). An IVF clinic is the only place where embryos can exist outside of the human body, and because of fear of potential legal repercussions posed by this ruling, many clinics have begun halting operations.

“Not only does this decision further restrict the rights of all people to access high-quality reproductive health care, but it has a negative impact on nurses and their relationships with patients and families” said Director of the ANA Center for Ethics and Human Rights, Liz Stokes, PhD, JD, RN. “Nurses at IVF clinics play an essential role in patient care, from conducting patient interviews, discussing treatment options, patient education, and supporting procedures like intrauterine insemination and embryo transfers. This ruling puts these nurses at direct risk of legal consequences for providing services that support their patients in determining their reproductive options.”

As the largest group of health care professionals, nurses have for decades assisted their patients with weighing available options, including the choice of IVF, when discussing sexual health issues and pregnancy. ANA firmly believes that no nurse should be subject to punitive or judicial processes for upholding their ethical obligations to their patients and profession. ANA advocates for reproductive access and sexual health that supports a patient’s decision and rights in a just society. 

“ANA will continue to advocate for the right to reproductive care. While we are disheartened that Alabama’s Supreme Court ruling further restricts decisions that should only ever be between a patient and their health care provider, we will use this as momentum to continue advocating for access to care and reproductive rights,” said ANA President Jennifer Mensik Kennedy, PhD, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN. “ANA is also considering the impact this ruling will have on patients with cancer as, for many who have gone through chemotherapy, their only option for building a family may rest on their access to IVF and the nurses who work in these clinics.”


TheAmerican Nurses Association (ANA) is the premier organization representing the interests of the nation's more than 5 million registered nurses. ANA advances the profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting a safe and ethical work environment, bolstering the health and wellness of nurses, and advocating on health care issues that affect nurses and the public. ANA is at the forefront of improving the quality of health care for all. For more information,

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