The Alabama Supreme Court ruled last week that frozen embryos are legally considered children, which effectively banned IVF treatment in the state. Following the ruling, several fertility clinics in the state, including the University of Alabama at Birmingham health system, paused IVF treatment due to fears they could face criminal or civil prosecution.

The ruling and its aftermath left thousands of people who are currently undergoing IVF treatment in a devastating limbo, adding even more stress, panic, and heartbreak to what is already a grueling endeavor. Two of those affected are 32-year-old Abbey Crain and her husband Colby, who have been undergoing fertility treatment for more than five years.

Crain, a journalist and artist who lives in Birmingham, has spent the past several years reporting on the loss of women’s rights to their own bodies in Alabama while dealing with the mental and physical toll of her own private fertility journey. She and her husband had been preparing to transfer their frozen embryos from their latest egg retrieval when she heard the news about the Supreme Court’s decision.

“It’s insane,” she says. “While I don’t view my embryos as scared children sitting in the freezer calling for their mommy, I do feel that they are mine and no one else’s. And right now I can’t, can’t touch them physically, mentally, spiritually, if I wanted to. I legally can’t.”

Here, Crain shares her story in her own words, from the hard-fought road she has taken to get her embryos, to why women in every state need to stand up and fight back against the latest gross incursion on the right to our own bodies.

My husband and I have been trying to have a child since 2018. We were sent to a fertility specialist after trying for a year and being unsuccessful. It just so happened that my first IUI [intrauterine insemination] corresponded to Alabama banning abortion in 2019, and I was covering it as a journalist. So I was taking fertility meds while driving to the state house in Montgomery, and then watching men in the Alabama State House fumble over their words on how a baby is made. The disconnect was insane.

We started gearing up to do our first round of IVF in the spring of 2022, right before Roe was overturned. I was still writing about reproductive justice and begging for people to pay attention, but I also knew the decision was inevitable. And I was like, you know what? I can’t do this at the same time. I can’t do it. I stopped writing altogether and pivoted to other jobs in my newsroom. Then, that summer I did two rounds of IVF that summer that were unsuccessful.

Not everyone knows what IVF is like, but many people know what it’s like to wait and want for a kid. Often, it’s all consuming. It’s full of grief, it’s full of hope, it’s full of pain. When that’s where you’re at, that’s everything in your mind. You’re dreaming, you’re planning. I’ve gone back and forth over these last years—I’ve literally lost count of how many—hoping and dreaming and planning for my future. Then trying to tell myself I need to not focus on this. I need to put something else first so I don’t think about it.

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