Latinas express concern about the future of in vitro fertilization after what happened in Alabama

Before having her daughter in January 2022, Andrea León had eight pregnancies and eight losses in a span of eight years. To this day, she does not know what caused these losses, but doctors recommended she and her husband try in vitro fertilization (IVF), a procedure that ultimately made it possible for her to carry a pregnancy to term.

“For those who may not know, recurrent pregnancy loss is a fertility problem. “Many people don’t know,” León explained in an interview with Noticias Telemundo. “Infertility is more than trying to get pregnant. (IVF) helps and blesses so many families for so many reasons.”

That’s why she, like many other families whose only alternative to conceiving is IVF, has expressed concern about what happened in Alabama: the state Supreme Court ruling in early February that determined that frozen embryos should be considered children and that those who destroy them may be liable for wrongful death. This week, Governor Kay Ivey signed a law that seeks to protect the procedure, but it is believed that its scope is limited and that it mainly protects those who provide the treatments, but not the families who request it.

“Any time a precedent is set, there should always be cause for concern,” says Karina Luna, who had her daughter through IVF in January 2024. “I think this is the first time we’ve really looked at infertilization.” vitro through the lens of the law and it’s pretty clear that there’s too much ambiguity around embryos.”

Although in vitro fertilization is a procedure that has been used successfully for more than 40 years, few are familiar with the complexities it entails, and the great commitment—economic, psychological, emotional and physical—it entails.

Noticias Telemundo spoke with two Latinas about their IVF processes and their concerns in case other states decide to follow Alabama’s example, taking into account that similar laws are being considered in states such as Iowa and Colorado.

A disconcerting process

In vitro fertilization accounts for about 2% of annual pregnancies in the United States, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is a process that involves fertilizing an egg with sperm outside the body, to form an embryo that is then transferred to the uterus to develop.

This process may require several egg retrievals and several rounds of fertilization until a viable embryo is found, which has a good chance of leading to a successful pregnancy.

The IVF process is an emotional and lonely journey. Even if you have the best friends and the most amazing spouse.”


“It’s interesting because you’re not seeing these things. You’re not seeing children. You are not seeing the embryos,” explains Luna. “When you hear ‘we got 24 eggs,’ you’re waiting for 40% of those to become embryos and then you come back and they say sorry, we only have one that’s viable.”

To determine if an embryo is viable, several tests are done to identify possible genetic defects. The goal is to increase as much as possible the chances of a pregnancy reaching term with a healthy baby.

“Added to this is that the women who are going through this are working, as are their partners,” says León, who managed to conceive her daughter through IVF in 2021.

“Once we did the ultrasound we saw that the embryo divided into identical twins,” León details to Noticias Telemundo. “That’s where it gets a little strange with the Alabama ruling because they want to compare them to children. But my daughter, my living daughter, cannot be divided in two. We living, breathing humans cannot do that, because we are not embryos. Embryos can do things like that.”

A dream come true thanks to science

León, like Luna, shared through her social networks the process and challenges of trying to conceive through IVF with the aim of starting and maintaining conversations about a topic that can be very difficult to address: infertility.

“I was very surprised to realize that there are so many women going through this, but that there are not so many conversations about the topic, woman to woman,” says Luna, who is an actress and businesswoman, in one of her videos on TikTok.

“The IVF process It’s an emotional and lonely journey.. Even if you have the best friends and the most amazing spouse. For me and other women I’ve talked to, it can be very lonely. It is a very intimate process and there are things that do not make sense,” Luna added in an interview with Noticias Telemundo.

Luna explained that she decided to advance her career and make her dreams come true before starting a family. “I feel like I checked all the boxes. I found my husband, I got married, I started a business, we are successful, we can travel, now I have a great life to offer my daughter. One that I know I didn’t have and probably wouldn’t have had if I’d had kids before.”

Seeing that time passed and she could not conceive, Luna sought the help of experts and a doctor explained to her that there are four ways in which a couple cannot conceive: there may be a problem with eggs, with sperm count, with anatomy of the woman, or with ovulation.

The decision of the Alabama Supreme Court is worrying because “it sets a precedent that could extend to other states,” highlights Telemundo News Lupe M. Rodríguez, director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice.

León explained that she and her husband hope to conceive a second baby in the future, but are worried that the state they currently live in, Florida, will follow Alabama’s lead.

Infertility is more than trying to get pregnant. “(IVF) helps and blesses so many families for so many reasons.”

Andrea Leon reproductive health activist

“We did IVF in the state of Maryland. We currently live in Florida for my husband’s PhD. We decided not to bring our embryos with us. We thought they were safer in the state of Maryland, where I think they have more reproductive rights than Florida,” says León, who has dedicated himself to the defense of reproductive health rights.

León details that after the loss of another pregnancy, after having had her daughter, she made the difficult decision to have her fallopian tubes removed and IVF is the only way she can extend her family.

A topic that is not talked about enough in the Latino community

Latinas have lower rates of use of infertility services than non-Hispanic white women, according to a study on disparities in access to infertility services published in the National Library of Medicine. This is due to economic, geographic, cultural and social factors, according to the report.

In practice, this can lead women seeking to become mothers and struggling with infertility to feel even more isolated in an already difficult process. “I don’t know if you have heard the stereotypes of: Mexicans, don’t sneeze in her direction or she will get pregnant. But, when you’ve been conditioned your entire life to feel that children are easy, you’re Latina. Once you’re ready it will happen and then it doesn’t, you start to wonder, did I do something wrong? Is my body broken?” says Luna.

“In the Latin community we don’t talk about this because women are supposed to be fertile and another layer of that is that the value of a woman, her value is quantified by her ability to have babies and be a great mother and that can be alienating. for someone like me.”

León has also addressed in different videos how difficult it can be as a Latina to talk about infertility.

“My husband is Mexican, my family is Ecuadorian, 100% Latin and it happened to both of us,” says León. “People don’t realize that we both have fertility problems, but they look at me.”

“I constantly emphasize that infertility is medical, not moral, because many times during my process people made me feel like I had the evil eye or because I wasn’t meant to be a mother or because God was punishing me for my sins and none of that. it’s true. “There are so many medical reasons why infertility occurs.”

The Alabama case, a ruling with many questions

The Alabama Supreme Court ruling stems from two lawsuits filed by three sets of parents who underwent IVF procedures and then frozen their remaining embryos.

According to the state court ruling, cited by CNN, the parents allege that in December 2020 a patient entered where the frozen embryos were stored and while trying to remove them, he burned his hand in the cold, dropping them and “killing” them.

This is the first known case in which a US court says frozen embryos are human beings. And while the court’s decision does not ban IVF, critics of this ruling fear it will have profound consequences for the way the fertility industry operates.

“This ruling is extremely alarming. It undermines people’s ability to make decisions about their own family planning through IVF,” warns Elizabeth Smith, director of state policy at the US Center for Reproductive Rights.

“IVF providers can stop offering IVF completely or leave Alabama now that they could face sanctions,” the expert highlighted to Noticias Telemundo via email, before Governor Ivey signed a law that seeks to protect the procedure, which resulted in the reopening of clinics that had closed.

And the recent state court decision raised many questions for families and fertility experts: Would medical providers be held liable every time an embryo does not develop into a successful pregnancy? Would parents have to pay fees for lifetime storage of embryos they can never discard?

“When we freeze the embryos, we expect that about 97%, 98% of the embryos will survive the thawing process,” explains Dr. Rubén Alvero, director of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital.

While IVF clinics opened again Thursday, a day after the bill protecting the procedure was signed, the new legislation does not address issues around the recognition of embryos as persons that led some providers to suspend some services.

“I am happy for the protections that have been put in place for IVF to resume in Alabama, however, there is still much in this legislation that needs to be addressed,” León said. “My heart goes out to those who had to stop their treatments during this time.”

Minorities in the United States, especially of Latino and black origin, are already at a disadvantage when it comes to care and access to health services, explains Rodríguez, so another concern as a result of the Alabama ruling is that it will be stigmatized. even more reproductive care.

“Our community is already the least likely to receive this type of care because it does not even have access to other types of services,” says the expert. “Alabama is home to one of the fastest growing Latino populations in the country.”

Rodríguez highlights that in the fight for reproductive rights, it is important to see the full picture of a person’s reproductive life. “It’s not just about having access to abortion, it’s about access to contraception, prenatal care, having children if you want, fertility support through IVF if you need it, and postpartum care once you have children,” she points out.

“It’s troubling that any part of this whole picture of reproductive care would be eliminated.”