Alabama Supreme Court Sparks IVF Debate

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Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • The Hungarian Parliament on Monday voted overwhelmingly—188 to 6—in favor of Sweden joining NATO, clearing the final obstacle preventing the Nordic country’s accession to the military alliance after months of delay by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. “The parliaments of all NATO member states have now voted in favor of Swedish accession to NATO,” Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said yesterday. “Sweden stands ready to shoulder its responsibility for Euro-Atlantic security.” An official flag-raising ceremony to signify Sweden’s accession is expected to take place at NATO headquarters in Brussels later this week.
  • The Palestinian Authority’s prime minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, announced the resignation of his government on Monday, following efforts by the U.S. and its Arab partners, including Saudi Arabia, to reform the body they hope will govern the Gaza Strip after the war ends. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who will remain in office, accepted Shtayyeh’s resignation and is expected to replace him with Mohammad Mustafa, who currently heads the Palestine Investment Fund. The move fell short of the changes outlined by the U.S. for the West Bank’s current governing body, which included Abbas’ resignation and granting the prime minister more power. 
  • Aaron Bushnell, a 25-year-old active-duty U.S. Air Force member, set himself on fire in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C., on Sunday in protest of the ongoing war in Gaza. Bushnell, who live-streamed the self-immolation while repeatedly chanting “Free Palestine,” died from his injuries Sunday night. Bushnell has been celebrated as a martyr by many prominent far-left voices, including independent presidential candidate Cornel West.
  • Maria Pevchikh, a close ally of Alexei Navalny, claimed Monday that the Russian opposition leader’s death in a penal colony earlier this month came shortly before a potential prisoner swap that would have freed Navalny and two Americans in exchange for an FSB officer serving time in Germany for murder. Western officials confirmed to Politico that such talks were underway, but said they were still in their infancy and that no tentative deal had even been offered to the Kremlin.
  • Prosecutors in New York’s criminal case against Donald Trump regarding hush-money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels requested on Monday that a gag order be placed on the former president ahead of next month’s trial. The request, submitted by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg,* sought “a narrowly tailored order restricting certain prejudicial extrajudicial statements by [the] defendant,” similar to a gag order already issued in the Washington, D.C. election interference case. Also on Monday, Trump’s legal team appealed the decision in the former president’s New York civil fraud case, which found him liable for lying about his assets to secure more favorable loan terms. 
  • Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel announced on Monday that she will step down from her position on March 8, following mounting calls from Trump to remake the RNC in his image ahead of the 2024 presidential election. “The RNC has historically undergone change once we have a nominee and it has always been [my] intention to honor that tradition,” McDaniel said in a statement. “I remain committed to winning back the White House and electing Republicans up and down the ballot in November.” Trump has endorsed North Carolina GOP chairman Michael Whatley to replace McDaniel and backed Lara Trump, his daughter-in-law, to serve as co-chair.
  • The Federal Trade Commission on Monday sued to block a proposed $25 billion merger between Kroger and Albertsons, which would be the largest such supermarket deal in history. “Kroger’s acquisition of Albertsons would lead to additional grocery price hikes for everyday goods, further exacerbating the financial strain consumers across the country face today,” Henry Liu, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, said in a statement released Monday. “Essential grocery store workers would also suffer under this deal, facing the threat of their wages dwindling, benefits diminishing, and their working conditions deteriorating.” Spokespeople for the grocery chains have argued the merger will benefit consumers by allowing the combined entity to better compete against Amazon and Walmart.

Explaining The Alabama Supreme Court’s IVF Decision

(via Getty Images)

Republican politicians have had quite a time in the last 10 days grappling with the effects of the Alabama Supreme Court’s decision legally protecting embryos under the state’s wrongful death statute, which prompted in vitro fertilization (IVF) facilities in the state to pause treatment. Tommy Tuberville, for example—the senior senator from Alabama—first expressed wholehearted approval of the decision while also saying he supported IVF. When asked about the effect of the decision on women currently in the middle of IVF treatment, he told Semafor, “I don’t know enough about how that works.” Finally, on Friday afternoon, the senator endorsed a move to legally protect IVF treatment.

Much to the chagrin of some pro-life advocates hoping to reform the IVF process, Tuberville’s evolution over the past week has been largely representative of elected Republicans’ efforts to distance themselves from any suggestion of restricting or banning IVF treatment. Democrats, seeing a political opportunity, have attempted to paint the Alabama decision as a consequence of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling in 2022, but as with most hot-button court decisions, the devil is in the details.

While much of the national press coverage in recent days has framed the Alabama decision as an attempt to end or even ban IVF in the state, the case was actually brought by three couples who had undergone IVF treatment at an Alabama fertility clinic, the Center for Reproductive Medicine. As the decision noted in the facts of the case, “The plaintiffs’ IVF treatments led to the creation of several embryos, some of which were implanted and resulted in the births of healthy babies.” The remaining embryos were cryogenically stored, but in 2020, a patient at the hospital where the IVF treatment center was located accessed the storage area and destroyed some of the couples’ frozen embryos. The group sued the center under Alabama’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act. A lower court dismissed the case, but the state Supreme Court reversed the ruling. 

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