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NCJW Calls Alabama Supreme Court’s IVF Ruling an Affront to Religious Freedom

NCJW Calls Alabama Supreme Court’s IVF Ruling an Affront to Religious Freedom

Court Decision Weaponizes Religion to Take Away Rights

Press contact: Jake Green,

WASHINGTON — National Council of Jewish Women CEO Sheila Katz released the following statement in response to the Alabama Supreme Court ruling that declared frozen embryos to be children and that the discarding of frozen embryos constitutes the wrongful death of a minor:

“This weekend’s decision from Alabama’s highest court classifying frozen embryos as children is wildly outrageous and sets a harmful precedent that violates separation of church and state and will make it nearly impossible for families in Alabama to access fertility treatments such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF).

“The court didn’t even try to hide the Christian theology behind their reasoning by referencing God 41 times and repeatedly quoting the Bible in their decision. Make no mistake, this is a clear violation of religious freedom as the Alabama Supreme Court — indeed the Chief Justice — has made clear that it seeks to impose a narrow Christian interpretation of theology on all people in Alabama. Religious freedom exists as a shield to protect religious minorities, and should never be used as a sword to discriminate. Weaponizing a personal religious belief to create law for millions is not just unconscionable, but unconstitutional.

“Jewish tradition does not consider an embryo as having the same legal status as a person, and the most common Jewish interpretation is that life begins at birth. Jews in the United States disproportionately rely on IVF, with 17% of Jewish women utilizing fertility treatments to get pregnant, as compared to 12.5% of the general population. This ruling will cause major pain as it strips away access to crucial scientific advances for Jews, LGBTQ couples, and so many who rely on IVF to start a family.

“Further, this decision creates legal chaos with far reaching consequences on medical providers — leaving fertility clinics unsure if they can provide services in Alabama and those who already have embryos frozen in clinics wondering if they will go to jail if they discard them.

“The people of Alabama deserve better. One-in-six people are affected by infertility.  Barriers to accessing IVF would only compound the lack of health coverage in Alabama, a state with the third highest maternal death rate in the nation. National Council of Jewish Women affirms that people should have full reproductive freedom to decide when and how to build their families — including through IVF. We will pursue all legal options available to our organization and will not stop fighting until everyone can access the health care they need according to their own religious beliefs.”



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