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Southern Baptist leader says IVF embryos should be treated as persons under law

The leader of the Southern Baptists Convention’s seminary made it clear he sides with the Alabama Supreme Court.

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The Alabama Supreme Court and the Alabama Legislature are currently at odds over whether embryos created through in vitro fertilization should be considered persons under the law.

The leader of the Southern Baptists Convention’s seminary made it clear Monday he sides with the court.

“The catalyst for this was the decision handed down by the Alabama Supreme Court that stated that life in the state of Alabama had to begin at fertilization,” Mohler said. “We mean when the sperm and the egg meet and God says, ‘Let there be life.’”

The Alabama Legislature itself created the law that the court then decided extended the protection of life to all embryos. Alabama voters enshrined into the state constitution that life begins at conception, which the ALSC determined extends to IVF embryos.

Mohler said politicians have flaked on their responsibilities due to the political consequences of taking a stance against current IVF practices.

“Even in the state of Alabama there was lack of political will to stand behind what was the correct ruling and judgment by the Alabama Supreme Court,” Mohler said. “And now we have evidence nationwide of all kinds of slippage on this issue. Quite frankly, we know that in our churches we have compromised on this issue. But if we believe in the sanctity and dignity of every single human life from the moment of fertilization, we need to recognize any intervention with an embryo, any commodification of the embryo, any turn of the embryo into a consumer product, is an assault upon human dignity.

“And we need to understand that IVF as it is practiced is not only the alienation of reproduction from the conjugal setting, it is also an engineered system whereby multiple embryos are created only for most of them assuredly to be destroyed,” Mohler said. “That is as immoral as anything we could imagine if you state the proposition clearly, but a lot of evangelicals don’t want to state the proposition clearly.”

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Facing the potential shutdown of IVF clinics across the state, the majority of Republican lawmakers in Alabama supported a rushed piece of legislation to remedy the situation. The bill that is now Alabama law offers immunity to IVF clinics for the destruction of embryos.

A few Republicans, such as Rep. Ernie Yarbrough, R-Trinity, balked at the legislation. Yarbrough said the ruling by the Supreme Court “possibly uncovered a silent holocaust” happening in the state.

Certain conservative groups such as Alabama Policy Institute and its current or former affiliates also expressed their opposition to the law and support for the IVF decision. The American Action Fund circulated materials criticizing lawmakers who voted for the IVF bill, prompting House Republican leadership to criticize the organization and support its members.

Meanwhile U.S. Senator Katie Britt, R-AL, sponsored legislation to safeguard IVF by blocking Medicaid funding to states that ban IVF access. The bill does not prevent regulations, however, on the practice.

Mohler also said IVF is “exploited” by the LGBTQ community.

“Much of the market for this is actually not even found among heterosexual married couples, but the redefinition of marriage, the redefinition of gender, the redefinition of all things in light of the LGBTQ movement, also means that there are people who can now have children alienated from that natural process and from the union of a husband and a wife in the institution of marriage and the larger institution of a natural family,” Mohler said.

The convention is considering passing a resolution supporting restrictions on IVF treatments, and Mohler urged support for the resolution.

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“I want to urge you to vote for that resolution on the floor of the Southern Baptist Convention and honestly, I want to urge you to be consistent in your pro-life advocacy in your local church, in your community, with your legislators and political leaders and frankly with the medical community, where honestly there’s a lot of slippage on this among doctors who think themselves to be faithful Christians,” Mohler said.

“Some of them have probably not thought through the issue. Sadly, some of them have.”

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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