Press Release

Gillibrand And Advocates Fight To Protect Access To IVF Following Alabama Supreme Court Decision That Puts Reproductive Rights In Jeopardy

Mar 3, 2024

Following an unprecedented decision by the Alabama Supreme Court that puts access to reproductive health care at risk, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand held a press conference in New York City to push for the passage of the Access to Family Building Act, legislation that would protect access to in vitro fertilization (IVF) and other assisted reproductive technology (ART). The bill would establish a woman’s right under federal law to access ART services, protect a medical provider’s right to provide them, and safeguard an insurance carrier’s right to cover them. Senator Gillibrand was joined by New York State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, Medical Director of Planned Parenthood of Greater New York Dr. Gabriela Aguilar, and Founder of The Chick Mission Amanda Rice.      

Two weeks ago, the Alabama Supreme Court issued a dangerous, first-of-its-kind ruling that strips away some of our most fundamental reproductive freedoms,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This ruling could have extreme implications nationwide – including in New York. It will make it harder for women to access infertility treatments, put doctors at risk of legal action, and establish a dangerous precedent that may be used by conservative courts to issue similar rulings in other states. I’m fighting to pass the Access to Family Building Act to firmly establish access to IVF and other fertility treatments as a federally protected right. Women deserve to start or grow their families without government interference, and I’m committed to making sure they can.” 

State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal said: “As the parent of two children born with the assistance of IVF technology, I’m outraged at the recent Alabama court ruling criminalizing this practice. IVF and other assisted reproductive technologies services are critical for people who may be experiencing fertility issues and for LGBTQ families like mine. I’m extremely grateful to Senator Gillibrand for introducing her Access to Family Building Act to protect the rights for all prospective parents to have access to IVF and other assisted reproductive technologies.”

 “The Alabama Supreme Court’s alarming attack on IVF did not happen in a vacuum and is a clear reminder that the fight for reproductive freedom is about access to all sexual and reproductive health services. For years, anti-abortion lawmakers have worked to add ‘personhood’ language into state codes and federal legislation. These laws endanger our ability to decide whether, when, and how to build a family. Whether a person needs IVF, birth control, or abortion, it should be their decision, and only their decision. We thank Sen. Gillibrand for drawing a clear line in the sand to protect all patients and providers from the harm of IVF restrictions,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

“When someone is diagnosed with cancer in their 20s and 30s, there are a myriad of challenges that have nothing to do with the malignancy itself. Top of the list: Will the chemotherapy and other treatment that will save my life, leave me unable to have children? Providing access to fertility treatments is so crucial during this time that I created a non profit called The Chick Mission after my third cancer diagnosis. Our organization supports newly diagnosed patients as they quickly seek to freeze their eggs. And this is why the Access to Family Building Act is so very important. From our point of view, this legislation ensures there will be support and access to fertility preservation for women on either side of a cancer diagnosis. This journey doesn’t end when treatment does,” said Amanda Rice, Cancer Survivor, Founder of The Chick Mission.

“Every single person deserves the freedom to decide if, when, and how they become parents — and that includes with reproductive technology like IVF. Imposing penalties on safe medical care and ignoring the expertise of doctors and medical professionals anywhere in our country is a threat, legitimizing ludicrous claims with no basis in science that stand to deeply affect people’s access to care and control of their own bodies. We at Planned Parenthood of Greater New York applaud Senator Gillibrand’s critical efforts to protect our reproductive freedom,” said Gabriela A. Aguilar, MD, MPH, Region 1 Medical Director Planned Parenthood of Greater New York.

“Since the fall of Roe we have been warning over and over that extremist, anti-abortion politicians would never stop at abortion care. They want to get between us and our most personal decisions, from contraception to IVF, unless we fight. The outrageous ruling in Alabama is a clarion call to our leaders that we must secure our rights at all levels of government. In New York state, that means fighting for the Equal Rights Amendment, a ballot referendum this November that adds constitutional protections for abortion and reproductive care. And today it means standing resolutely with Senator Gillibrand to support the Access to Family Building Act to ensure a strong federal right to IVF. Decisions about our bodies, our families, and our futures belongs to us,” said Donna Lieberman, ED of the NYCLU which is part of New Yorkers For Equal Rights.

“What we saw in Alabama is not an isolated incident. The GOP has worked for decades to push through policies that would have the same impact in the states and nationally. That’s why we must act now to protect IVF and fertility treatments by passing the Access to Family Building Act. We’re so grateful to champions like Sen. Gillibrand and Senate Democrats who are fighting to make this crucial bill law,” said Kimberly Peeler-Allen, board chair at Reproductive Freedom for All.

The Alabama Supreme Court’s ruling that frozen embryos are children and that those who destroy them can be held liable for wrongful death is expected to have far-reaching implications within the state and potentially nationwide. It provides a legal roadmap that may foreshadow future cases in other states. It may discourage doctors from providing IVF treatments for fear of being held liable for a failed embryo transfer or pregnancy. And it could vastly increase liability costs and force potential parents to store embryos indefinitely, meaning that IVF could become an unaffordable option for couples looking to conceive. The Access to Family Building Act would codify the right to IVF and similar treatments by preempting state and local laws that intentionally or unintentionally restrict access to fertility treatments; allow for DOJ to challenge restrictive state or local laws; and empower patients and providers to file civil lawsuits to preserve the right to receive or provide IVF and other treatments. 

Apart from Senator Gillibrand, the Access to Family Building Act is cosponsored by 47 senators. In the House, the bill has 103 cosponsors.

The bill is endorsed by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, Healthy Women, and Hadassah.