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New legislation in Alabama aims to safeguard I.V.F. treatments

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Alabama lawmakers recently passed a crucial piece of legislation aimed at protecting in vitro fertilization (I.V.F.) providers from civil and criminal liability. This move comes in the wake of a State Supreme Court ruling that deemed frozen embryos to be considered children, sending shockwaves through the reproductive medicine landscape in the state. Following this ruling, Governor Kay Ivey wasted no time in signing the bill into law, marking a significant victory for those involved in the I.V.F. industry.

The legislation, which received overwhelming support from both the House and Senate, highlights the urgent need to safeguard I.V.F. treatments in Alabama. The bill not only serves to shield clinics and providers from potential legal repercussions but also ensures that patients have the autonomy to make decisions regarding their fertility treatments without external interference.

One such patient, Stormie Miller, expressed her relief at the passing of the bill, stating, “It’s happy tears, it’s a sigh of relief just because we know we are protected.” Miller, a mother of twin girls born through I.V.F., emphasized the importance of being able to make decisions about the future of her remaining frozen embryos without external pressures.

However, despite the positive outcome of the legislation, there are still lingering questions regarding the definition of personhood and the broader implications of the court ruling. Lawmakers and legal experts acknowledge that while the bill provides much-needed protections for I.V.F. providers, it does not fully address the underlying philosophical and ethical questions raised by the court’s decision.

Some major clinics have indicated their intentions to resume I.V.F. treatments in the near future, while others remain cautious, awaiting further legal clarification. The University of Alabama at Birmingham health system, for example, expressed its commitment to promptly resume treatments but emphasized the need for ongoing advocacy to ensure continued protection for providers and patients.

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The passing of this bill represents a crucial step in safeguarding the rights of individuals seeking fertility treatments in Alabama. While challenges and uncertainties remain, the bipartisan support for this legislation underscores the importance of preserving access to reproductive technologies while navigating complex legal and ethical considerations.

In conclusion, the Alabama legislature’s swift action to protect I.V.F. treatments reflects a commitment to supporting families and individuals on their journey to parenthood. As the state grapples with the implications of the court ruling, the passing of this bill serves as a beacon of hope for those seeking to start or expand their families through assisted reproductive technologies.

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Chats and reflections on the present moment.

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Lydia Polgreen

Credit…Will Heath/NBC, via Getty Images

It is a rare thing in our rapidly secularizing country to be confronted with piety and devotion in popular culture. So it was a surprise, and a balm, to watch a man who prays daily and talks openly about his devout faith storm a bastion of earthly godlessness: “Saturday Night Live.”

I am referring, of course, to the comedian Ramy Youssef, who hosted the show on what he described in his opening monologue as “an incredibly spiritual weekend,” noting Ramadan, Easter and the arrival of a new Beyoncé album.

“I’m doing the Ramadan one,” he quipped, to peals of laughter, unspooling a very funny bit about how loving Muslims are. Youssef has mined his experience as a believer among the profane in gentle standup specials and a namesake sitcom. His entire monologue glowed with a welcoming warmth — Muslims, he seemed to say: We’re just like you.

In a country that is supposedly obsessed with diversity and inclusion, it is remarkable how rare it is to hear from a practicing Muslim in America.

Surveys by the Institute for Policy and Understanding, a nonpartisan research organization focused on Muslim Americans, have consistently found that Muslims are the most likely group to report religious discrimination in the United States. According to a Pew survey conducted in 2021, 78 percent of Americans said that there was either a lot or some discrimination against Muslims in our society. Muslims are no more likely to commit crimes than members of any other group, but crimes in which Muslims are suspects get outsized media coverage, research has shown.

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It is no surprise, then, that Islamophobia is perhaps the most tolerated form of religious prejudice. Right now, Senate Republicans appear to have persuaded several Senate Democrats to vote against a Muslim judicial nominee after smearing him, with no evidence at all, as an antisemite.

Many of the skits that toyed with religion on “S.N.L.” on Saturday were funny — Ozempic for Ramadan! Genius. But part of me winced through them as well, because I saw in Youssef something that other members of minority groups have had to do to “earn” their place in the safety of the mainstream: the performance of normalcy, of being nonthreatening and sweet, the requirement to prove that your community belongs in America just like everyone else’s.

I loved Youssef’s monologue, in which he bravely pleaded, “Please, free the people of Palestine. And please, free the hostages. All of the hostages.”

“I am out of ideas,” Youssef declared toward the end of his monologue. “All I have is prayers.”

To which this nonbeliever can only say: Same, Ramy. Same.

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