Whitmer vows to protect IVF access for out-of-state residents after Alabama ruling

(Sarah Rice/Getty Images)

By Kyle Kaminski

February 27, 2024

A decision by the Alabama Supreme Court is raising concerns about the future of fertility care. But in Michigan, in-vitro fertilization is still legal and available—even for out-of-staters who must travel to Michigan to receive care.

MICHIGAN—Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is promising to protect access to reproductive health care in Michigan amid ongoing efforts to ban in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and a decision from the Alabama Supreme Court that effectively banned the fertility treatment across the state.

Whitmer this week directed the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to issue a reminder to health care providers in Michigan that access to reproductive health care is protected under the state constitution, and that providers are formally protected from extradition on all matters of reproductive care under an executive order that Whitmer signed in 2022.

“Michigan health care providers can and should continue to provide reproductive and infertility care to their patients, whether they are Michigan residents or from out of state,” the letter reads. “We will do all we can to protect and expand access to reproductive freedom, including infertility care. We will work to ensure health care providers have the resources they need to do their jobs in supporting their patients as they make decisions about health care and their own bodies.”

Republican-led efforts to restrict abortion across the country resulted in a controversial ruling at the Alabama Supreme Court this month that found frozen embryos in test tubes are legally considered people, and that those who destroy them can be held liable for wrongful death.

The ruling has since caused healthcare providers in Alabama to to stop offering IVF treatment altogether, as well as stoked fears of a broader, nationwide push to restrict fertility care if Donald Trump and anti-abortion Republicans regain control of the federal government in 2025.

There have also been bills introduced in over a dozen state states—and at the federal level—that would effectively have the same IVF-banning consequences as the Alabama ruling.

In Michigan, the right to reproductive freedom—and the “right to make and effectuate decisions about all matters related to pregnancy”—has been enshrined in the state Constitution after voters overwhelmingly passed Proposal 3 in 2022. Whitmer said that includes IVF treatment.

“In Michigan, we will keep fighting to protect reproductive freedom and give families as many options as possible as they start or grow their families,” Whitmer said in a statement. 

Beyond the state’s constitutional protections, an executive order that Whitmer signed in 2022 formally protects health care providers in Michigan from criminal extradition if they provide reproductive health care to an out-of-state patient—including IVF care for Alabama residents.

“We will continue monitoring the situation closely and make sure our nurses and doctors can do their jobs. We will fight for your freedoms in Michigan,” Whitmer said in a statement. “You deserve to make decisions that are best for you and your family with your doctor without unelected government officials getting in the way. No matter what, we got your back.” 

READ MORE: Rogers tries to distance Senate campaign from past attempts to ban IVF 

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Follow Political Correspondent Kyle Kaminski here.

Author

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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