Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson


AG Ferguson assures patients, providers in wake of Alabama Supreme Court decision deeming frozen embryos ‘children’

OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson issued the following statement today, assuring patients and providers across Washington that the state’s strong protections for reproductive freedom include access to assisted reproduction, including in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Ferguson’s consumer alert is a response to a recent decision from the Alabama Supreme Court, which ruled that embryos created through IVF are “children” for the purposes of that state’s wrongful-death law. The decision caused an abrupt pause in fertility services across Alabama and raised concerns about potential implications for standard practices in fertility treatment, such as freezing or destroying embryos created for purposes of IVF.

“IVF and other forms of assisted reproduction are protected under Washington law,” Ferguson said. “Washington voters passed the Reproductive Privacy Act three decades ago to guarantee protections for reproductive freedom — full stop. While attacks on these fundamental rights continue across the country, Washington remains a refuge during this public health crisis. We will not stop fighting to preserve access to the full range of vital reproductive health care services, including the right to seek an abortion.” 

Washington’s Reproductive Privacy Act was approved by voter initiative in 1991, codifying the right to choose into state law. At the time supporters warned of potential threats to Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that recognized a federal constitutional right to seek abortion care. Washington voters decided to protect reproductive rights in our state even if federal protections went away.

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturning Roe, upholding state laws like Washington’s Reproductive Privacy Act is more critical than ever.  

Washington’s law states: “The sovereign people hereby declare that every individual possesses a fundamental right of privacy with respect to personal reproductive decisions.” Additionally, the state cannot “discriminate against the exercise of these rights in the regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services, or information.”

Additionally, in 2023, the Legislature enacted Washington’s Shield Law, further strengthening protections for reproductive health care services, patients and providers. The new law states that it is “the public policy of Washington to protect” the provision of gender-affirming treatment and reproductive health care services — which includes a broad range of care, including assisted reproduction such as IVF. More information about the Shield Law is available at the Attorney General’s website.

In short, it is public policy in Washington that patients have access to the full range of reproductive health care — including assisted reproduction, such as IVF — and their decisions about that care are made privately between them and their health care providers, without government interference.

Legal resources regarding reproductive rights available to patients, providers

In February 2023, the Attorney General partnered with reproductive rights advocates to support a comprehensive legal services website, abortiondefensenetwork.org. It connects individuals with no-cost legal support.

The website, managed by the Lawyering Project, is backed by a nationwide network of trained attorneys. It is designed to help providers and patients around the country understand their legal rights. Ferguson convened law firms and advocacy organizations in Washington to ensure that attorneys are available to advise anyone who is seeking legal guidance about providing or receiving abortion care in Washington state.

Ferguson’s office also published a “Know Your Rights: Reproductive Health Care” flyer to help constituents understand their legal rights in Washington state.

For more information about accessing abortion in Washington state, visit the state Department of Health’s abortion information page.


Washington’s Attorney General serves the people and the state of Washington. As the state’s largest law firm, the Attorney General’s Office provides legal representation to every state agency, board, and commission in Washington. Additionally, the Office serves the people directly by enforcing consumer protection, civil rights, and environmental protection laws. The Office also prosecutes elder abuse, Medicaid fraud, and handles sexually violent predator cases in 38 of Washington’s 39 counties. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.

Media Contact:

Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; Brionna.aho@atg.wa.gov

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