The Texans Facing Uncertainty Amidst IVF Ruling

The Texans Facing Uncertainty Amidst IVF Ruling
Photo by Drew Hays / Unsplash

On the heels of an IVF ruling out of Alabama that has sparked fears the procedure could be in danger, many Texans are grappling with the distinct possibility that one of the biggest lifelines against infertility could be gone. Some patients are even opting to move embryos out of state.     

The uncertainty over IVF has also found its way into a courtroom. Last year a lawsuit was filed on behalf of several plaintiffs that allege that the Cooper Companies (through their subsidiary CooperSurgical) distributed a contaminated liquid used in the IVF process. That resulted in a recall effort and the destroyed embryos for thousands of patients in several countries.

Today, the Clarkson Law Firm announced additional lawsuits on behalf of the original complaint against CooperSurgical, including from a couple from Wylie, Texas. Attorney Tracey Cowan said on a media call that the couple had nineteen embryos after undergoing rounds of IVF, but after the recall discovered they were all insufficient to use. Cowan described the couple as being “completely devastated.”

According to Cowan, her law firm is currently representing over 100 people in this lawsuit, and she anticipates that number will grow. The ruling out of Alabama has also produced even more anxiety and stress said Cowan on the press call.

The ruling in Alabama from their state Supreme Court came after a lawsuit was filed by three plaintiffs over destroyed embryos. The plaintiffs sued a fertility clinic for wrongful death, which was tossed by a lower court in the state before ultimately landing with the Alabama Supreme Court. The justices overruled that lower court in an 8-1 decision that said according to the state Constitution embryos are children.

The ramifications of that constitutional reading were swift with almost every major clinic that offers IVF in the state pausing services. People who even wanted to transfer their embryos out of state were told that was impossible. Yesterday Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra held a press conference with several impacted IVF patients in Alabama.

Cowan stressed that any similar ruling stemming from this lawsuit against CooperSurgical was unlikely because the plaintiffs are not pursuing wrongful death at this time. However, the fear of IVF becoming unlawful in more parts of the country should not be discounted when assessing the emotional damage faced by patients impacted over the CooperSurgical errors noted Cowan.

The Texas Signal asked Cowan if any of the plaintiffs expressed fears that IVF could be ruled illegal in a state like Texas. Cowan said there was a fear of that possibility. “That is something that is very frightening for couples in Texas and in other states across the country who are worried that a lack of understanding about the IVF process may lead to the passage of laws that unfairly or unintentionally restrict people’s ability to have children.”