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A new study shows health disparities cost Texas billions of dollars; Senate rejects impeachment articles against Mayorkas, ending trial against Cabinet secretary; Iowa cuts historical rural school groups.

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The Senate dismisses the Mayorkas impeachment. Maryland Lawmakers fail to increase voting access. Texas Democrats call for better Black maternal health. And polling confirms strong support for access to reproductive care, including abortion.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Alabama passes bills to protect IVF, but concerns remain

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Friday, March 1, 2024   

The Alabama House and Senate both passed bills this week that would help people resume in vitro fertilization and provide legal protections for providers and patients in certain cases.

Senate Bill 159 and its companion House Bill 237 passed swiftly despite debates surrounding immunity and personhood.

While this is a positive step that allows families to resume treatments, said Heidi Miller, development manager for the reproductive-justice group Yellowhammer Fund, they're still concerned with the limited timeframe offered by the bills, including the one sponsored by Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence.

"So, it just feels like a very limited solution to me, and that's our stance as an org, is that it feels like very much like a Band-Aid on open wounds," she said. "And so, that's how we've kind of been looking at those bills, because Sen. Melson's bill similarly would be repealed on April 1, 2025."

Both bills would apply retroactively and be automatically repealed next year, which Miller said could affect families again. This comes after IVF programs around the state stopped offering the service over concerns about legal consequences following a 8-1 state Supreme Court ruling. The court ruled that frozen embryos are protected by the state's Wrongful Death of a Minor Act that protects children, regardless of location.

Acknowledging the temporary nature of the bills, Miller argued that a short-term solution is insufficient for people seeking IVF treatments, which sometimes can take months or years. She said they're urging lawmakers to take further action to safeguard the accessibility of IVF.

"For us to get the constitutional amendment - the, quote, 'sanctity of life' constitutional amendment from 2018 - back for a re-vote in front of Alabama voters," she said, "because that would be the long-term solution that would really protect IVF access."

Unless the constitutional amendment is repealed, she said, it could supersede any other law or code, specifically where the term 'child' or 'minor child' is not defined. Miller said the Yellowhammer Fund has resources on its website for people who want to know more.

House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels, D-Huntsville, is sponsoring two measures, including a constitutional amendment, to clarify that an extrauterine embryo should not be considered an "unborn life" or "unborn child."


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