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Montana mother with frozen embryos left with questions after Alabama ruling

A recent Alabama Supreme court ruling is sending fear into the lives of mothers to IVF babies, after the state’s highest court decided frozen embryos are protected like any other child in that state.
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Posted at 8:11 AM, Feb 23, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-23 10:11:43-05

BILLINGS- Eighteen-month-old Luna grabs a toy from her toy bin and toddles it over to her mom Leah. As she holds up a brightly colored green stretchy tube, Luna smiles at her mom, and Leah smiles back.

It's these small moments with her daughter that bring so much joy to Leah’s life because for so long, she’s wanted to be a mother.

“I just always knew,” said Leah. “From the moment that I was little that I would have kids one day.”

Her journey to get Luna was long, so Leah had to be patient because she decided to do it on her own.

“You know, I hadn’t found someone yet, but also it's 2024,” she said.

She talked with her doctors and says she tried a bunch of options, but she says what stuck was getting a sperm and an egg donor.

“Billings Clinic did the science part and put them together to create the embryos. You also have to have a lot of injections daily and stuff like that,” she said.

The embryos were tested, and Leah says one of them is not healthy, meaning it wouldn’t take if she were to use it for implantation.

“So it wouldn’t take, but they send Luna, the healthiest one and I did get to pick whether it was a boy or girl,” she said.

The process brought Leah her dream come true: Becoming a mother to a healthy baby girl when she couldn’t do it without medical help.

“It’s really special, and I didn’t take it lightly,” she said.

A recent Alabama Supreme Court ruling is sending fear into the lives of mothers of IVF babies like Leah, after the state’s highest court decided frozen embryos are protected like any other child in that state.

“I feel like the Alabama ruling made it scarily black and white,” said Leah. “And it’s not at all.”

After the ruling, hospitals in Alabama abruptly halted the transfer of embryos, leaving growing families heartbroken and confused.

It's why Leah is sharing her story, so others don’t feel so alone.

“It’s not something people talk about,” she said.

While the ramifications of the ruling are still unclear, experts worry the ruling could have drastic consequences for fertility treatments.

Regardless of how Luna got here, Leah says, she’s loved and wanted.

“With science, you can do it by yourself,” she said. “I mean if you want it bad enough, it's possible.”

And since she still has embryos left, Leah admits she’ll have to give more consideration to her next steps in deciding if she’ll give Luna a sibling.

“Yeah, I have some left which is great, but what if one doesn’t take. What will they think about that?”

She says, for now she’s going to move forward as planned and will thank her lucky stars for her daughter.

“I just can’t help but think about all the ways it could go,” she said. “It could mean and the control that not only me, but other families could lose.”

Lianna Karlin with the Right to Life of Montana group said Thursday that it's horrible that people who want to have a baby so badly are caught in such a painful conflict.

She also included a statement regarding the Alabama Supreme Court ruling that said in part the following;

“This right to life exists regardless of stage of development, degree of dependency, location, appearance, age, gender, race, or any other arbitrary criteria.”