Florida lawmakers pause 'unborn child' bill in wake of Alabama ruling -report

Feb 26 (Reuters) - Florida lawmakers have paused efforts to pass a bill that would have provided protections to an "unborn child" but possibly hurt the state's in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics, as happened this month in Alabama, the Washington Post reported on Monday.

Florida state Senator Erin Grall told the Post that "Although I have worked diligently to respond to questions and concerns, I understand there is still work that needs to be done" on her bill. It's unclear if the bill will be revived in this legislative session, which ends in two weeks.

Grall's office did not respond to after-hours requests for comment.

The pause in Florida comes as Republicans try to contain the fallout from a recent Alabama Supreme Court ruling that allowed parents to sue for wrongful death of their minor children, including embryos, based on that state's 2018 Sanctity of Life Amendment approved by voters that supports "the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children."

The ruling by Alabama's Supreme Court, whose nine justices are all elected Republicans, forced some IVF clinics to halt their operations, stoking anger among patients and those who called it another infringement on women's reproductive rights.

In 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that recognized the constitutional right to an abortion. That left it up to states to determine legality within their borders. Conservative states, such as Alabama, have since imposed near total bans on abortion procedures.

After that 2022 ruling, Democrats in the midterm elections were able to retain control of the Senate and limit their losses in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Now, Democrats are hoping to leverage the abortion issue further to help President Joe Biden secure a second term and boost their prospects in Congress.

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, in a statement on Friday, called on the Alabama legislature to find an immediate solution to preserve the availability of IVF treatments in the state.

"I strongly support the availability of IVF for couples who are trying to have a precious baby," the former president said in a post on Truth Social.

Sean Tipton, chief advocacy and policy officer for the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, which tracks legislation and lobbies against measures such as Alabama’s restrictions, said in an email that the group has seen several bills in many states seeking protections for unborn children.

"Given the profound backlash to the Alabama decision I doubt there are many elected officials looking to be accused of stopping access to IVF," Tipton wrote. (Reporting by Brad Brooks in Longmont, Colorado, and Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; editing by Donna Bryson and Kim Coghill)

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