In Wake of Alabama Supreme Court IVF Decision, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra Visits Birmingham

Updated on March 5, 2024

On Tuesday, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra visited Birmingham, Alabama, in the wake of the Alabama Supreme Court’s recent ruling on IVF. In Birmingham, Secretary Becerra sat down with patients and providers who have been directly impacted by the IVF decision to hear their stories. Secretary Becerra also visited Planned Parenthood’s Birmingham clinic –– the last Planned Parenthood left operating in the state of Alabama to speak with advocates and patients about their fight for reproductive freedoms. 

“It’s just been kind of a gut punch,” LaTorya Beasley shared with the Secretary. LaTorya is an IVF patient who was preparing for another round of IVF and had an embryo transfer scheduled for March 4 that has now been cancelled. “We were at the doctor’s office when the doctors and the clinics said they would close down. The very next day, I got progesterone shots delivered. It’s just been gut punch after gut punch for us.”

“This affects real people –– this affects real families,” shared Dr. Rachel Charles, who told the Secretary about her journey with IVF and scheduled transfer for the end of March that is now ‘in limbo.’ “It makes it so that people aren’t able to make those decisions for themselves about whether or not they want to pursue the idea of having a child.”

“When our son was born, in December of 2020, it was the brightest, most beautiful light in what was such a dark time,” Stephanie Perry, an IVF patient at the University of Alabama Birmingham who has a 3-year-old son because of IVF. “We’re not finished growing our family. And the ruling that came down, I just think about the families that got a phone call from their doctors that said they can’t move forward. I am devastated for them because it’s a chance, it’s not a guarantee. I am asking, don’t take away that chance. Don’t take away that light from these families.”

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United States Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra comforts Stephanie Perry as she tells her story of IVF treatment in Birmingham, Alabama. Photo from Jake Crandall of the Montgomery Advertiser.

Read and watch more about Secretary Becerra’s visit to Alabama:

AP: Alabama lawmakers look for IVF solution as patients remain in limbo  

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra visited Alabama to lead a roundtable discussion with a group of IVF patients on Tuesday in Birmingham. Becerra said the decision has had heart-wrenching consequences, and it underscored the importance of protections for reproductive care that were lost when Roe v Wade was overturned. “When Roe went down and took away health care rights and access, it did it for more than just abortion care,” Becerra said.

The 19th‘Gut punch after gut punch’: In Alabama, IVF patients speak out

Rebecca Mathews, a 36-year-old mother of two children conceived through IVF, told The 19th in an interview earlier Tuesday that she reacted with a mix of shock and anger when she heard news of the decision. She has a remaining frozen embryo and hasn’t yet decided how to proceed. “We had options and we only had time, and now we don’t have either of those,” Mathews said.  

MSNBC: Prosecution for ‘simply trying to have a family’ is a ‘real fear’: HHS Secy. on IVF ruling

Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra joins Morning Joe to discuss the widespread “fear and confusion” sparked by recent IVF restrictions in Alabama, emphasizing the broader implications beyond abortion. With legislation like the Life at Conception Act gaining traction, families nationwide face uncertainty and potential legal hurdles in accessing reproductive healthcare.

CNN: Florida ‘unborn child’ bill stalls amid concerns over IVF and abortion policies

US Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra is in Birmingham Tuesday to meet with patients and health care workers directly impacted by the IVF ruling. He noted the confusion caused by the ruling is a consequence of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which overturned the federal right to an abortion under Roe v. Wade. “If you’re looking to have a family, all of a sudden, you’re told that you could face prosecution,” Becerra told CNN’s John Berman Tuesday morning of families in Alabama. “Certainly, you’re facing confusion as to whether or not you can continue with your in vitro fertilization. And what are the consequences for you if they’re not successful, if you have embryos that you don’t use? It’s just a situation that would not have existed if Roe vs. Wade continued to be the law of the land.” 

MSNBC: Following court ruling on embryos, HHS secretary heads to Alabama

It was 11 days ago when the Alabama Supreme Court’s far-right majority ruled that frozen embryos are actual people. It wasn’t long before real-world consequences started affecting families throughout the state, including three medical facilities halting in vitro fertilization treatments. It also wasn’t long before some officials started asking what, if anything, can be done to help those hurt by the court’s ruling. NBC News reported that Biden administration officials have already begun discussing “possible legal and policy options.”

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