Alabama busies itself fixing what ain't broke

Published March 21, 2024

By Celia Rivenbark

I may have been hasty in suggesting Texas secede a few weeks ago because there’s another state that’s intent on making misery for no good reason these days: Alabama.

Yes, the Tommy Tuberville-electin’, take your fertilized egg to work day Alabama. That one. Who knew “Crazy in Alabama” wasn’t just a decent tragi-comic novel turned movie starring Melanie Griffith?

I thought Tuberville was the dumbest Alabamian until the state Supreme Court said, “Hold my yeller stuff with the foamy part on top.” More on that in a minute.

To be fair, parts of Alabama are downright charming (lookin’ at you, Fairhope) and it is the home of “Southern Living” magazine which I have subscribed to since I was a mere zygote possessing preternatural reading skills. But, yeah, when it comes to crazy, Bama’s living up to that old truism: In the South, we don’t hide our crazy relatives; we just put ‘em out on the front porch, er, U.S. Senate, for the whole world to see!”

Tuberville, you recall, is the former football coach who singlehandedly held up 400 military jobs last year to protest the Pentagon’s policy on abortion and reproductive health, which he deemed too liberal. Even his fellow Republicans were exhausted with him. His antics infuriated most of the country and especially military families whose lives were severely disrupted by Tuberville’s epic hissy fit.

As nutty as that was, the current IVF debacle is “stupider” as Tommy T might say. The Alabama Supreme Court recently ruled fertilized embryos created via in vitro fertilization are children! This means fertilized embryos can no longer be discarded – ever—because that could result in charges of “wrongful death” which isn’t murder exactly but doesn’t sound good.

And while they’re trying to walk that back a bit, new legislation designed to protect IVF and shield parents and doctors from prosecution is considered a Band-Aid by legal scholars.

The Court specifically called the frozen embryos “extrauterine children,” which is the world’s least appealing name for a T-ball team if you ask me.

While a frozen embryo is “alive,” it can’t develop or grow in its frozen state. It can’t catch a football or explain the origin of “Roll Tide” or possess a push-pin map of every Cracker Barrel visited.

More than a few folks who have stored their embryos in Alabama facilities have inquired if the Court’s ruling means they can claim their extrauterine children as legal dependents on their taxes. I can’t love this enough because it makes perfect sense. The Alabama Supreme Court hasn’t answered that question, perhaps because it misplaced its Magic 8 Ball.

Besides the possible tax advantages, I wonder if you can “check out” your extrauterine child for a day if you’d really, really like to board your flight with Zone 1. If they say, “Zone 1 is for families with infants only” you could just flip open your cooler and say: “Don’t listen to the mean lady little Atticus! You are, too, a real baby!”

IVF has been a godsend for couples having trouble conceiving so the Alabama Supreme Court must have looked at that and thought, “How can we screw this up and cause irreparable harm, endless stress and financial hardship for these parents?”

It should come as no surprise to those of you with a Tommy Tuberville Bingo Card of Idiocy that he got very, very confused when asked what he thought of the court’s ruling.

At first, he said he was all in favor of it, then he said we need “more children” and, after being told, many Alabama IVF clinics were shutting down as a result, confessed his head is filled with rice pudding and thumb tacks, and he doesn’t know what he’s saying most of the time.

Maybe not that last but at least he’d finally be telling the truth.

Celia Rivenbark is a columnist and NYT-bestselling author. Write her at