First U.S. IVF Baby Comments on Alabama Ruling

The first IVF baby born in the United States — now 42 years old — shares her shock and sadness with Healthnews about the recent Alabama embryo ruling.

In 1981, Elizabeth Carr was the very first baby to be born via in vitro fertilization (IVF) in the United States. Carr’s parents flew from their home in Massachusetts to Virginia monthly to access the groundbreaking treatment that would allow them to create a family — a treatment that has now essentially been outlawed in Alabama.

The Supreme Court of Alabama issued a ruling on February 16 stating that the Wrongful Death of a Minor Act applies to all unborn children without limitation, including embryos located outside the uterus. As a result, many fertility clinics in the state have halted IVF treatments out of fear of legal consequences.


Carr says this decision, and the impacts it’s already having on those struggling with infertility, are simply unbelievable.

“The ruling is devastating to those trying to build a family,” Carr tells Healthnews. “It is unthinkable to me that effectively 42 years of progress for IVF and assisted reproductive technologies has come undone.”

Carr’s passion for IVF access has not been renewed due to the ruling — it’s the very issue to which she has dedicated her life. The author and speaker is a passionate advocate for those fighting for fertility rights, devoting her career to helping others better navigate the complex and ever-changing world of infertility and crush the stigma that still surrounds reproductive options.

Now, she says, she “feels like an endangered species,” and the latest ruling has only heightened her determination to educate people on the importance of access to reproductive options.

According to The National Infertility Association, one in six people of reproductive age are impacted by infertility globally, and about 2% of annual births in the U.S. involve IVF treatment. IVF is also the most common and effective form of assistive reproductive technology.

In a WBUR op-ed, Carr wrote that her parents’ greatest hope was that no one else would have to experience the heartache and strain they endured in order to build a family, and she still holds on to that same hope.

“Without IVF, 12 million people would not be here — all contributing to society in their own way,” Carr tells Healthnews. “People should continue to have access to IVF because modern medicine has allowed so many to build the family they have been dreaming of.”


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