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Monday, April 15, 2024

Passing IVF legislation

By Rep. Matt Woods

Soon after I was first sworn in as your state representative, I asked one of my new colleagues what I should expect, what was it like serving in the legislature? He told me that he had quit trying to predict what would happen, but he promised me that it would never be dull. He could not have been more right, especially in light of the last couple weeks. As many of you know the Alabama Supreme Court issued a ruling that allowed a wrongful death lawsuit involving unimplanted embryos to proceed through the state court system. The ruling set off a firestorm of national media attention, much of which was misinformation designed to belittle conservatives and damage the pro-life movement.

In its ruling, the state Supreme Court cited two Alabama laws that seemed to be at odds with one another. The first was a little-known statute from the 1800’s involving the death of minors. The second was the constitutional amendment recognizing the rights of the unborn that Alabamians ratified in 2018, by a 60% to 40% margin.

Of course, as soon as the ruling came out, the legislature began to work on a solution that would be in line with our pro-life beliefs while also ensuring that IVF clinics across the state would feel comfortable from a civil liability standpoint, to resume providing care for those trying to have children through IVF.

On Wednesday, the House gave final approval to a measure designed to fix the situation. The bill was carried by Rep. Terri Collins who also carried Alabama’s heartbeat bill, which is widely considered to be one of the most pro-life laws in the country. Passage of the IVF legislation allows families to continue experiencing the blessings of children while ensuring that unborn life remains respected, protected, and secured. At the same time, it allows the state to seek a more long-term response to the state Supreme Court ruling that also strongly embraces the conservative, pro-life values that the vast majority of Alabamians believe in.

The legislation was passed in five session days, which is the fewest number of days that the Alabama constitution allows, and Gov. Kay Ivey signed it into law that same day. Unlike most bills, this law went into effect the moment it was signed by the governor. The new law prompted IVF clinics around the state to immediately reopen and resume services while the Legislature works toward more permanent, long-term solutions to the court’s ruling.

There were two other pieces of legislation that would have normally received more attention in any other week. The first was a bill to enhance Alabama’s election security by prohibiting the practice of ballot harvesting. The bill will combat voter fraud by prohibiting the gathering and submitting of pre-filled absentee voter applications by third-party individuals, rather than submission by voters themselves directly to absentee ballot election managers. Historically, most voter fraud in Alabama has been committed through the absentee balloting process, and most voter fraud prosecutions have been of those who abused the absentee process.

The second is an update on the “Parents Right to Know” education transparency bill that I mentioned in an earlier column. Our own Senator Greg Reed authored the legislation and I have been working with him to pass it in the House. This bill creates transparency regarding class curricula and classroom materials by requiring that they are posted on a school website. The bill also encourages more communication opportunities between parents and educators. Helping parents be more engaged in their child’s education is the ultimate goal for the “Parents Right to Know Act” and I am grateful for the overwhelming support my colleagues have shown.  Thankfully, we have good reports as it has passed both chambers and I anticipate it will soon be sent to Gov. Ivey.

Next week the legislature does not meet, but I’ll be back the following week. Until then…

Matt Woods is the Representative for State House District 13. He is a small business owner in Jasper who is currently serving in his first term of office. You can reach him at [email protected] 

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